Welcome to the online home of Healing Stories: Picture Books for the Big and Small Changes in a Child's Life. Here you'll find information about Healing Stories, along with unique resources to support you in using picture books to help children through the challenges they face, from the everyday to major trauma.

Have you ever wished that you could find just the right book for a child? Maybe a child in your life is anticipating a big change, such as having a new brother or sister, starting school for the first time, or moving to a new house. Maybe something difficult and painful has happened, such as a divorce, a serious illness, or a death. Or maybe you just know a child who is fearful at bedtime, or is a fussy eater, or has a bad day occasionally. It may have occurred to you that sharing a story could help the child in your life manage the situation that she or he is going through.

Why a story? A healing story is a comforting experience. As a child, it’s a comfort to know that other kids have gone through what you’re going through - whether it’s something as ordinary as starting school for the first time, or something as traumatic as a natural disaster. It’s a comfort to know that other children have had the feelings you’re having, and that there are ways to solve the problem or to get through the situation. Most of all, it’s a comfort to share this experience by reading with an adult who cares deeply about you. And when you’ve read this healing story with your parent or another caring adult enough, the book itself - and ultimately, the story (in the absence of a physical book) - becomes a comfort. But, as a parent or other concerned adult, how will you find this healing story to share with your child?

Healing Stories puts at your fingertips an annotated listing of more than 500 picture books that was prepared just for this purpose. Each story or nonfiction picture book has been carefully selected by a psychologist who works extensively with children. Each chapter includes summaries of picture books relevant to a specific concern that children may have, empowering you to select the books that best match the child and the situation you’re concerned about. Healing Stories also includes a helpful introduction that discusses ways to use books with children who are experiencing life changes or stress.

Below you'll find reviews of picture books that aren't included in Healing Stories, and can be valuable sources of healing for children.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs

Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 32 p., Putnam, 2006. Sometimes our assumptions about disabilities turn out to be inaccurate. Such is the case for Lee, a jazz pianist who loses his hearing. The band leader fires him, asking, "Who will listen to a deaf musician?" Discouraged, Lee enrolls in a school for the deaf, thinking he can learn a new skill. He meets a man there, a saxophonist named Max, who questions his assumption that he can't play music any more. The two have long sign-language conversations about music, and eventually try playing a duet. They find that they play well together. Playing in the subway, they draw the attention of Rose, a bass player who signs, and whom they invite to join them. When they decide that they need a singer, Rose invites her friend, Ellie, a sign-language interpreter. The quartet plays daily in the subway, and Lee realizes that he's playing for his largest audiences ever. When his former band leader shows up with a compliment, Lee reminds him of his question - and Lee has an upbeat answer for it. An afterword celebrates the meaning of music that's beyond sound. With colorful illustrations that match the jazz theme, this story encourages children with and without disabilities to question their assumptions in positive ways. Ages 4-8

Monday, July 21, 2014

Anna's Corn by Barbara Santucci

Illustrated by Lloyd Bloom. 32 p., Eerdmans, 2002. Shared experience can be both a metaphor for loss and a way to move through the loss. in this story, set in the context of a farming family, Anna's Grandpa teaches her about the music that the corn makes in the fields - music that sounds to Anna just like Grandpa. Almost as if to commemorate the experience, he gives her kernels of corn to plant the next year. During the winter, Grandpa dies, and Anna misses him terribly. The corn seeds feel hard, just as she feels hard inside. She tells her mother that she doesn't plant them because she likes them as they am, and besides, if she buries them, like Grandpa, they'll be gone forever. But her mother reminds her that she won't hear the music in them unless she plants them. With this encouragement, she eventually does. True to her mother's word, the corn grows, and Anna hears its music. Anna saves some of these seeds to plant the following year. This story is illustrated with gently-colored pencil and pastel drawings. Rich in metaphor, it offers both empathy and hope to children who have lost someone close. Ages 4-9

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

Illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church. 24p., Scholastic, 2005. Here's a rhyming story that communicates being fully loved. The narrator loves everything about the character, inside and out, in all his moods, always. Cheerfully illustrated, this story celebrates the unconditional acceptance that parents and other special people feel for children. Ages 0-3

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mommy in My Pocket by Carol Hunt Senderak

Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata.32 p., Hyperion, 2006. When children go to school, they might miss their parents. In this sweet story, a little bunny imagines that she'll miss her Mommy when school starts. Although she could bring Mommy's picture with her, what she really wishes for - and the story elaborates on - is that Mommy would be tiny enough to fit in her pocket, so she could keep her there all day at school, next to her heart. She imagines the whole day like this. But she knows that even though that won't happen, she'll be all right at school, "because the love in Mommy's hug and kiss ... will stay with me all day!" This rhyming story is illustrated with tenderly colored, yet energetic watercolors. It offers empathy with children's wishes, along with reassurance that they can tolerate ordinary separations from parents. Ages 2-6

About the Author

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Jacqueline Golding, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Pleasanton, California who works with children, teens, and adults. A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Golding earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Central Contra Costa County Child, Adolescent, and Family Mental Health Service in Concord, California. She holds an appointment as Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco and has published over 100 articles in scientific and professional journals on topics such as trauma, depression, and cultural issues in mental health. Dr. Golding is represented by the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

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