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.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Way the Storm Stops by Michelle Meadows

Illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger. 32 pages. Holt, 2003.

A girl watches as it starts to rain, and as it rains harder and harder and thunder and lightning begin. This frightens the girl, who curls up under her covers. But Mommy comes and scoops her up, rocking her under a cozy blanket, and she can feel safe again. The storm begins to fade, and the girl can go to sleep. With its creative use of sounds and rhythm, this story reassures children about seeking comfort from a parent when they're scared.

Ages: 2-5
Cultural Context: African American

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka

32 p., Morrow, 1994.

This poetically worded book celebrates the many colors that children come in, and the many textures their hair can have. According to the author, like children, love comes in many colors. This book promotes acceptance and appreciation of diversity among people.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mama, I'll Give You the World by Roni Schotter

Illustrated by S. Saelig Gallagher. 34 pages. Schwartz & Wade, 2006.

When a child can count on a parent's empathy and care, they can give each other the world. Luisa's single mother works hard as a hair stylist to save money for Luisa's college education - a way to give Luisa the world. Luisa comes to the salon after school and does her homework, and then entertains herself while Mama works. Mama seems sad in ways that Luisa is too young to understand. Luisa gives her mother a surprise birthday party that helps Mama to reconnect with her capacity for joy - and in doing this, she has given Mama the world. Using Luisa as an example, children will understand that their love is truly meaningful to people close to them.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, December 10, 2006

No, David! by David Shannon

32 pages. Scholastic, 1998.

Rambunctious children often feel that their parents always seem to be saying No to them. In this story, David tracks mud across the living room floor, runs down the street naked, plays elaborately with his food, picks his nose, and plays baseball in the living room. Each time, his mom tells him No! But on the last page, she hugs him and tells him that she loves him. This book might help kids understand that their parents don't stop loving them when they say No. On a more subtle level, it might also help children separate their inappropriate behavior from who they are as individuals, which allows them to change their behavior and still be themselves.

Ages: 2-6
Cultural Context: European American
 

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Barnyard Song by Rhonda Gowler Greene

Illustrated by Robert Bender. 32 pages. Atheneum, 1997.

All the animals at the farm come down with the flu and have to go to bed for a week in this rhyming story. Their voices are distorted by the addition of sniffling and sneezing sounds to the usual sounds. After a visit from a doctor and a nurse, the farmer feeds the animals soup. Soon they're all feeling better and vocalizing in their normal way again. Children will enjoy the silly animal sounds, and will understand that the flu will pass after a week or so.

Ages: 1-4
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Princess in Boxland by Tanja Sz├ękessy

Translated by J. Alison James. 25 p., North-South Books, 1996.

Preschool-age Marie imagines she is a princess and, as she gets inside a cardboard carton, tumbles into Boxland. There she meets the king and queen, who wear one box for clothing and a box each for crowns. She has several adventures, sailing in a paper boat and outwitting the royal lion, before she has to go home. This story shows kids how to transform an ordinary object into the gateway to imaginary adventures.

Ages: 2-5
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Family for Jamie: An Adoption Story by Suzanne Bloom

24 pages. Clarkson N. Potter, 1991.

Molly and Dan can make almost anything, from cookies to bird houses, but although they wish for a child to share these with, they can't make a baby. They decide to adopt a baby, and visit a social worker. As they wait through the winter, spring, and summer for a baby, they anticipate the fun things they'll do with their child during each season. At the same time, they acknowledge the child's individuality, realizing that the child might not enjoy doing the things they enjoy. Finally, in the fall, the social worker has found a baby for them, and they're full of joy as they bring baby Jamie home. Their family and friends are happy with them. This story will help young children understand the adoption process in a positive, age-appropriate way.

Ages: 1-4
Cultural Context: multicultural

A Family for Jamie: AN ADOPTION STORY

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston

Illustrated by R. Duncan. 32 pages. Dial, 1994.

Amber lives in an isolated mountain community where there is no school. She longs to read, but has never had a chance to learn how. When Anna's father comes to the mountain to build a road, Amber meets and becomes friends with Anna, who decides to help her learn to read. Athough it's frustrating for Amber, Anna encourages her to be stubborn about it, and she does learn. Then Anna decides she's going to teach Amber to write. But she doesn't have the opportunity - her father has finished the road, and her family is moving away. As a going-away gift, she gives Amber the book that inspired her to read, and Amber gives her a clay mule, representing the determination that Anna helped her find in herself. When Amber receives letters from Anna, she decides to teach herself to write. With the tenacity she's found through Anna, she succeeds, and writes Anna a letter. The two friends maintain their connection through letters even though they're far apart. Children will understand that encouraging the development of each other's strengths and feeling joy in each other's successes enrich friendships.

Ages: 6-10
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, November 5, 2006

When I Care About Others by Cornelia Maude Spelman

Illustrated by Kathy Parkinson. 24 pages. Whitman, 2002.

A little bear recounts some of the ways that others care about him or her, and realizes that s/he can care about others in similar ways. The bear presents the important insight that other people have the same kinds of feelings that the bear does, and shows how to use this to make decisions about interpersonal behavior. Since the bear dislikes being teased or pushed, s/he doesn't tease or push others. Since the bear likes it when others act friendly, share, and compliment, the bear extends friendliness, sharing, and compliments to others. Notes for parents and teachers explain how children develop empathy and compassion, and give specific suggestions for promoting these qualities. Children will learn how to use their own feelings to get along with other people in a positive way.

Ages: 2-5
Cultural Context: non-human

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

Illustrated by Elisa Kleven. 40 pages. Dutton, 1991.

With an imagination and an Abuela (grandmother) who loves you, the sky's the limit. This delightful story takes place in the granddaughter's imagination, as she and her Abuela take off with the birds and fly all over New York City together. This flight reveals lots of the sights they've seen on real adventures they've had together, and in a particularly moving sequence mirroring their very close and special relationship, they briefly make a home in the clouds, where Abuela holds her granddaughter in her lap. The mixed-media illustrations are full of color and detail. This story shows the joy of sharing whatever is on your mind with someone who understands and cares for you.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

Illustrated by M. Lloyd. 32 pages. HarperCollins, 1986.

In this story, a little old lady who is not scared of anything walks home in the dark, and various pieces of clothing and a jack-o-lantern try to scare her, each making its own sound. She bravely says she isn't scared, although her quickening pace makes her fear obvious to readers. Because of her verbal refusal to be scared, the collection of clothes cannot intimidate her. At her suggestion, they become a scarecrow, so that at least they can scare someone. Children will understand the usefulness of just plain refusal to be scared, along with some cleverness, in coping with fear.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: European American

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Margaret and Margarita by Lynn Reiser

32 pages. Greenwillow, 1993.

Margaret, who speaks only English, and Margarita, who speaks only Spanish, both tell their mothers it is NOT a beautiful day to go to the park, because there is no one there to play with. Then they find each other, and in this bilingual book, they find ways to communicate and play. They agree to be friends, and they look forward to future trips to the park. This story shows children that they can find ways to communicate with kids who initially seem different from them - and that when they do, it's possible to find a good friend.

Ages: 3-7
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 8, 2006

There's a Big, Beautiful World Out There! by Nancy Carlson

32 pages. Viking, 2002.

Although there are a lot of scary things and situations in the world, if we hide from them, we miss positive aspects of life also. The author acknowledges - in detail - that there's a lot to be scared of, including mean-looking dogs, thunderstorms, crawly things, frightening stories in the newspaper, public speaking, and even people who don't look like you. She acknowledges the wish to hide under your covers when you're scared. But she also points out all that you'd miss if you hid under the covers. For example, if you hid from a thunderstorm, you'd also miss the rainbow that comes afterward. You might even miss learning important things about yourself, or making new friends. She encourages kids to allow themselves to experience the world, in spite of their fears. The courage and optimism she writes about are all the more meaningful in light of a note saying that she wrote this book on September 12, 2001. Children can learn from this book that while their fears are legitimate, it's still possible that they're outweighed by positive experiences in life.

Ages: 3-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, October 1, 2006

The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora

Illustrated by E. Sayles. 32 pages. Viking, 1999.

A first-generation Mexican American girl, called Estelita at home and Stella at school, works through her sense of being different from her first-grade classmates and her neighbors because of her Mexican heritage. She experiences her family as comforting, and yet at the same time she's also drawn to the English-speaking culture in which she lives outside her house. Her wish for more connection between the cultures is suggested by her wish that her mother and her teacher could speak the same language. When the girls in her class have to dress as tulips for a May Day parade, she finds that she's the only multicolored tulip - much as she's the only child who contains more than one culture. At first, she's ashamed, but as she senses her mother's pride, she too feels proud and competent. When her mother empathizes with her mixed feelings about being the only rainbow tulip, Estelita/Stella feels the strength of her connection to her Mexican heritage, which allows her to accept the ambivalent experience of being different. This story offers empathy to Mexican-American children who have felt the way Estelita/Stella does and to others who feel "different", along with a way to honor their uniqueness.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, September 24, 2006

All Families Are Special by Norma Simon

Illustrated by T. Flavin. 32 pages. Whitman, 2003.

When teacher Mrs. Mack shares with her class the news that she's going to be a grandmother, the kids want to talk about their families. Families are big and small, come in many colors and have ancestry in many countries, include adopted and biological children, and can have all kinds of parents - married parents, single parents, stepparents, grandparents, and two mommies. Families have a variety of living arrangements. The kids think of several kinds of happy and sad times that their families have had together, and Mrs. Mack tells them that families support each other in bad times and enjoy good times together. She affirms the importance of each child in his or her family, and the specialness of each family. One limitation is that a child of divorced parents explains that "that's the way it is when you divorce" - but he hasn't divorced; his parents have. Otherwise, though, this book will promote acceptance of all kinds of families.

Ages: 4-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller

Illustrated by Gregory Christie. 32 pages. Lee & Low, 1997.

Growing up poor in the segregated South, Richard longs to read, but is not allowed to borrow library books because he is African American. A co-worker lends him his library card. Richard tells the librarian he is checking out books for the co-worker, and when he is questioned, he says he is illiterate. Later, his co-workers taunt him about his reading. Yet Richard is profoundly moved by what he reads; for him, books are an important part of his journey to freedom. This is an inspiring story of a courageous struggle against racism.

Ages: 7-10
Cultural Context: multicultural

Monday, September 11, 2006

September Roses by Jeannette Winter

40 pp. Farrar/Frances Foster, 2004.

Two sisters in South Africa, professional rose growers, pack 2,400 roses for a flower show to be held in New York City. They arrive on September 11, 2001, witnessing the devastation of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Because there is no place for the sisters to go, they stay in the airport until a man offers them a place to stay. In return, they offer him their roses. He brings them to Union Square, where the roses are needed. The sisters arrange the roses on the grass in a memorial to the two towers. This story offers children a way to be kind and to create meaning in a devastating time.

Ages: 5-8
Cultural Context: multicultural

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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