Episode 37: Reading: Helping to Heal Trauma

Episode 37: Reading: Helping to Heal Trauma

Did you ever think of reading for helping to heal trauma? We talk to Jessica Sinarski about her books and reading as a way to help connect with those who have experienced trauma and help them heal.

This week we are joined by Jessica Sinarski, a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health who works with children and has so much knowledge and experience to share with us!

In this episode we talk about:

1. Jessica’s experience and background working with children and people who have experienced significant trauma in their early lives as well as her passion for digging into the effects of early trauma on the brain and the different paths to healing.

2. Why and how stories and reading can play a role in helping and working with kids who have experienced trauma.

“Story is a powerful tool for connecting and healing.”

3. Why it is important to bring the “big” and “scary” parts of ourselves or our experiences to the surface and process them.

4. Why picture books are a good medium for kids to be able to engage with different parts of the story, depending on their situation and needs.

“That is my goal- to start young and often, dealing with the tough stuff in life.”

5. Jessica’s experiences seeing picture books help people of all ages- even adults- recognize, express or process their feelings.

6. The books that Jessica has written and how they came to be.

“There are kids who desperately need these stories, …but then they are empathy builders for kids who haven’t had a lot of stressors yet so they can be a friend.”

7. How the books can help take the shame out of having these big feelings and help both kids and adults understand where the feelings come from and how to handle them.

8. What types of books can be helpful when trying to connect with kids who have experienced trauma and a few ideas on when and how to use them.

“Humans… have these little windows where we can learn… and where we’re receptive and ready and can soak things up. Sometimes that’s at bedtime during reading, but that’s where we have to be really tuned into the child, because sometimes it’s during play or it’s when we’re out for a walk…”

9. Heaps of book recommendations to help kids with their feelings and experiences!

10. Extra resources for parents and adults trying to parent and work with kids who have gone through trauma.

“We can’t fix everything. Sometimes you just have to sit with it.”

In Reading: Helping to Heal Trauma we mention

We are so grateful to Jessica for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her, her books, and her work can be found in the following places:


@rileythebrave (Jessica Sinarski)


Brave Brains

Riley the Brave

Common Sense Media Book Reviews

Books we mentioned:

Riley the Brave 

by Jessica Sinarski

Riley the Brave Makes it to School

by Jessica Sinarski (releasing June 2021)

What’s Inside Your Backpack?

by Jessica Sinarski

The Invisible String

by Patrice Karst

Mo Willems (author)

Hey Warrior

by Karen Young

Hey Awesome

by Karen Young

The Kissing Hand

by Barbara Bain

Grumpy Monkey

by Suzanne Lang

You may also be interested in:

Listen to our interview with Dr William Stixrud about internal motivation to read

Listen to our interview with Drs Dollahite and Marks to hear insight into strengthening family relationships through reading.

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