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, September 22, 2014

Always My Grandpa by Linda Scacco

Illustrated by Nicole Wong. 48 p., Magination, 2007. When someone close to a child has Alzheimer's disease, the child may experience disbelief, worry, confusion, anger, and embarrassment. Such is the case for Daniel, who has always enjoyed spending the summers with Grandpa at the shore. On their way to a visit with Grandpa, Daniel's mother explains that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and Daniel can't believe that things will be different - and at first, it seems as if they aren't. Grandpa still tells the same stories that Daniel has always loved, and they play catch as they always have. But soon it becomes clear that Grandpa has difficulty keeping track of his belongings, his memories, and his words. During a lucid moment, he tells Daniel that he's sorry this is happening, and even when he behaves in strange or confusing ways, he still loves Daniel. One day, after a walk on the beach during Grandpa's nap, Daniel and Mom return to his house to find a burning pan on the stove. Grandpa doesn't know who they are, which frightens Daniel. But they remind him of who they are, and he seems reassured. Daniel and Mom talk about their feelings, and he's able to verbalize some of his biggest fears: is Grandpa going to die? Are his parents? Mom responds with honesty and caring, and Daniel feels better. But then, when Daniel plays catch with a friend whom Grandpa has known for a long time, Grandpa asks who the friend is - three times during a short period. Embarrassed, Daniel asks his friend to play with him somewhere else, and then gets angry at his friend. His mother explains that Grandpa's behavior can be confusing to others, and she acknowledges Daniel's feelings. They agree to talk with the friend and his mother about Grandpa's diagnosis. For the rest of the summer, some days are better than others. Daniel seems discouraged about the changes in Grandpa - he's truly experienced them now. At the end of the story, Grandpa is coming to live with Daniel and his family. Having said at the beginning of the story that he won't allow Grandpa to forget him and Mom, on the way home, he tells Grandpa the stories that Grandpa has told him. Illustrated in ink and warm-toned watercolors, this story shows kids what Alzheimer's disease is like and offers them empathy and reassurance. Ages 6-10

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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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