Literally Healing

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Literally Healing

The Literally Healing Program uses books to lift the spirits of our patients and their families.

A core component of the program is a dedicated therapeutic library with more than 1,000 specially selected books designed to help children build mastery, courage and hope during their stay at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Another component of the program uses books as gifts for patients to provide them with a source of distraction during their recovery.

Therapeutic Library

Health care providers request specific recommendations from our team for patients during particularly stressful times in their recovery. Providers then read these carefully selected books to patients or encourage families to experience them together. Doing so often paves the way for patients to disclose their worries and fears to their caregivers or their parents, fears that they might not otherwise have felt comfortable sharing.

The most common issues that our program can address through books include:

  • living with serious illness, physical limits and disability
  • coping with negative feelings like worry, fear or sadness
  • dealing with siblings who are jealous of the attention the child is receiving
  • feelings of guilt for their condition
  • coping with changes in family structure
  • dealing with the fear of death or feelings of grief (for siblings)

Patient Empowered to Begin Chemotherapy

An eight-year-old patient was reluctant to cut her hair as she readied to begin her chemotherapy treatment. With the encouragement of our program staff, her social worker read her Kathy's Hats by Trudy Krishner — a story about a girl who discovers that her hair will grow back after she finishes treatment. After hearing the story the patient announced, “Oh, I see. My hair will grow back. Now I'm ready to have it cut off."

Therapeutic Book for Children with Spina Bifida

In 2005, Claire Austin, MPhil, founder and director of the Literally Healing Program, and Stacey Mizokawa, MD, of our Spina Bifida program recognized that children with spina bifida had few resources to address questions about their condition. With generous support from First 5 LA, Claire Austin and Dr. Mizokawa partnered to create a one-of-a-kind online experience, Right Under My Nose, to address this need.

Experience the Book



Right Under My Nose, is designed to help children with spina bifida understand their condition, discover new ways to enrich their lives and support their parents and caregivers in providing answers to their questions. The book is hosted as an interactive experience in both English and Spanish so more children and families can take advantage of this empowering story free-of-charge.

Volunteer With Us

Gifts of books often lift the spirits of our patients and, for those who enjoy reading regularly, a new book can provide an opportunity to engage in an activity that they associate with life outside the hospital.

Generous volunteers make themselves available to assist patients, families and staff in selecting free books from the Gifting Library, deliver gift books to children in their rooms when they cannot visit the Library and read to patients at the bedside when they are unable to leave their rooms. To explore volunteer opportunities within The Literally Healing Program, please email

A BookMOObile, a mobile cart with a cow face and tail, gingham ribbon and cowbell, is used to wheel these free books around the hospital for children of all ages, from board books for infants to novels for young adults.

Literacy Promotion

The program supports our patients’ academic success by giving them books that support literacy. Each weekday that a child is an inpatient at our hospital, he or she may select and keep one book. Inpatients are invited to visit the Reading Room, located on the sixth floor of the Anderson Pavilion, to select a book and enjoy the quiet atmosphere.

We greatly accept donations of new books and gift cards (see below for suggested book sellers). For simplicity, our wish list on allows you to select your donation and have your gift shipped directly to us.

Giving the Perfect Book

We are extremely grateful to our community for holding book drives to support Literally Healing so we can lift spirits, encourage and educate the young patients in our care. Space limitations at the hospital can make it a challenging to find appropriate storage space to accommodate the wonderful books you provide the children. Please consider holding a "gift card drive" instead of a traditional book drive.

Gift cards allow us to maximize your gift to our patients. Our staff gain essential flexibility to make “on-demand” book purchases and meet the specific needs of specific patients during their healing process. We use your gift cards to purchase "Dream Books," which would not normally be on our wish list or in our inventory. By tailoring title purchases, your gift helps us support patients' dreamsbe these learning about robots or considering a career as an architect. Together we can expand patients' horizons and possibilities.

Gift cards deliver the perfect books for introducing and encouraging our patients' individual interests and dreams.

Deliver your Gift Cards to Literally Healing

  1. Schedule an appointment to drop-off your gift cards by calling (323) 361-4312 or
  2. Mail your gift cards to us at:
    The Literally Healing Program
    Children's Hospital Los Angeles
    4650 Sunset Blvd., MS #16
    Los Angeles, CA 90027

We love gift cards from:

1st choice Amazon
2nd choice Barnes & Noble
3rd choice Target

Thank you for bringing a Dream Book to our patients!


The Literally Healing Program
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
4650 Sunset Blvd., MS #16
Los Angeles, CA 90027 
Fax: 323-361-7436



Claire Austin
Founder & Director

Cynthia Gutierrez
Program Coordinator