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, August 25, 2014

My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits

Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. 32 p., Farrar/Frances Foster, 2003. When children move to a new country, they may feel alone and estranged. Yoon's family moves to the United States from Korea. Her father tells her that she has to learn how to write her name using the Western alphabet. Yoon doesn't like this - she likes it in Korean, the way it's always been. She likes the connection of that written form with her name's meaning, Shining Wisdom. When Yoon starts school, her teacher's first lesson is about a cat. She doesn't want to write "Yoon" on her paper, so she writes "CAT." On another day, she writes "BIRD" instead, and on another day, "CUPCAKE." Each time, the word is what she wants to be, in some way. As this is happening, she is beginning to make friends, her teacher is growing to like her, and she's learning things at school. When her mother expresses pride in this, Yoon can consider the possibility that America could be a good home for her. "Maybe different is good, too." Now she's willing to write "YOON" in English, and feels confident that it still means Shining Wisdom when written that way. Illustrated with expressive, light-filled paintings, this story helps children manage the complex feelings that immigration brings. Ages 4-7

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

32 p., Candlewick, 2004. Criticism by others can lead to painful self-criticism and shutting down. Ramon loves to draw, but when his brother laughs at him, and hints that his drawings don't look like what he means them to look like, he questions himself. He can't make his drawings look "right." Finally, he stops drawing altogether. Then he discovers that his sister, Marisol, has been rescuing his discarded drawings and hanging them on her walls. The one that his brother had laughed at is one of Marisol's favorites. When Ramon says that it doesn't look like a vase of flowers, Marisol replies that it looks "vase-ish." As he looks at his drawings on her walls, he realizes that they really do look "ish", and gives himself permission to think and draw "ish-ly." He even begins to write "ish-ly." He lives "ishfully ever after." With expressive, charming, yet somehow scribbly-looking, illustrations rendered in ink, watercolors, and tea, this story shows children how to allow themselves to create from who they are, rather than what they think (or they think others think) they should be. Ages 4-9

Monday, August 11, 2014

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrated by Jen Corace. 32 p., Chronicle, 2005. Being fussy about what you eat can be a matter of perspective. Little Pea is a happy little pea who likes to play with his friends, roughhouse with his father, and listen to his mother's stories. But he hates to eat his dinner. Peas have to eat candy for dinner every night, and Little Pea thinks it tastes awful. Mama Pea and Papa Pea tell him that he has to eat at least five pieces of candy to be allowed to have dessert. So, reluctantly, he eats them, expressing disgust after each one. His promised dessert? Spinach - his favorite! With its simple, cheerful, ink and watercolor illustrations, this story helps children to have a sense of humor about picky eating - and who knows, maybe a new perspective, too. Ages 4-8

Monday, August 4, 2014

Begin at the Beginning by Amy Schwartz

34 p., HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, 2005. When you expect too much of yourself, it's hard to do anything at all. Sara learns this when she's assigned to paint a picture on behalf of her class. She's had a bad day at school, and is discouraged to begin with. At first, she thinks she'll paint a picture of the tree outside her window, but then she decides that she has to come up with a "very important" subject for this painting. After a large after-school snack, she decides to paint the entire earth, and in fact, the entire universe. But she finds herself unable to begin. It goes on this way until dinner time, when her whole family has ideas about how she should do it, which they express in a distressing cacophony. After dinner, Sara explains to her mother that she was going to paint the entire universe, but she can't do it. Her mother encourages her to begin at the beginning, and reminds her that the universe is made of people just like them, and rooms and houses like theirs. Sara realizes that she really can begin with the tree outside her window, and that that's manageable for her. She finally begins to paint. With simple, expressive, charming illustrations in a gentle color palette, this story shows children how to give themselves permission to let go of unrealistic expectations - an important lesson for so many children to learn. Ages 5-8

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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