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 29, 2014

The Sea Serpent and Me by Dashka Slater

Illustrated by Catia Chien. 38 p., Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Sometimes being a friend means letting go. A little girl finds a beautiful sea serpent in her bathtub. They play together in the bath, and when it isn't bath time, she keeps him in a fish tank. The girl asks the serpent whether he misses the sea, and he says he does. In response, she promises to take him back, but the next couple of days are rainy, and she doesn't think that's good beach weather. In the meantime, the serpent is growing rapidly, and although she has mixed feelings about it, the girl realizes that if he grows any larger, she won't be able to take him home to the sea. So they go to the beach in spite of the rain. Knowing that people and serpents have different needs, and so need different homes, the girl says goodbye to the serpent. It's hard for both of them, but they take the time to share memories of their time together, the girl gives the serpent lots of reassurance about his life in the sea. When she's gone home, the girl finds comfort in her memories of the sea serpent. The story is illustrated with charcoals and semi-transparent washes of acrylic in a palette of greens and blues. Children will understand that there are times when it's best for both of you to put your friend's needs first, and that although this can be painful, it's bearable. Ages 4-8

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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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