Hope is an Open Heart — Perfect Picture Book Friday

This is a special Perfect Picture Book Friday. Quoting from Susanna Leonard Hill’s PPBF post last week, since “Friday, December 14 is the anniversary of the date in 1954 that the UN General Assembly recommended there should be a Universal Children’s Day, we are going to be doing our part to raise awareness of the plight of children around the globe and to promote the welfare of children in the world by posting books which focus on multicultural/multiracial issues, human rights, and/or children who have helped to change the world in some way.”

The book I have chosen features children of many cultures, and is about an emotion that is necessary for us all, especially in the face of natural and humanly-created disasters such as children face the world over. This is perhaps coming at the subject of the day in a rather indirect way, but I hope it can still be seen as appropriate.


Title: Hope is an Open Heart

Author: Lauren Thompson

Illustrator: Photographs from a variety of sources

Publisher: New York: Scholastic, 2008


Genre: Picture book/Concept book

Audience Age: 3 to 8 years

Themes/topics: hope, resilience, dealing with difficulties, overcoming fear, optimism, love, support

Opening Sentences: Hope… Sometimes hope feels far away. But hope is always there.

Synopsis: Through evocative photos and gentle, reassuring text, the author shows that even in difficult times, we can remain hopeful. Lauren Thompson does this through many explanations/definitions of what hope is. “Hope is sad tears flowing, making room for joy.” “Hope is knowing that things change – and that we can help things to change for the better.

The book was written in response to children’s fears after such disasters as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004, and can be used to address other natural and un-natural disasters, as well as serious illness and other fear-producing occurrences.

Activities/Resources: Children could be encouraged to think of their own definitions for hope, and to illustrate them either by drawing pictures, or by making collages from magazine pictures and words. They could think of other kids who are perhaps having a hard time feeling hopeful (disadvantaged kids at Christmastime, kids in hospitals, kids whose homes were damaged or destroyed during a hurricane like the recent Sandy) and think of ways to share hope with them.

The website Tree of Hope suggests activities such as collages, building hopeful communities, and the like.

Sesame Street’s page about helping kids deal with hurricanes could also be used as a springboard for discussion about hope in other situations, and the tips at the bottom of the page could help in talking with children about any situation that arises in which hope is difficult but necessary.

Nicky Johnston’s blog My Happy Hero, which focuses on helping children deal with worry and anxiety has useful suggestions, tools, books, etc. that can help in building hope and positivity instead of fear.

Availability: Available in hardcover.


Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


24 thoughts on “Hope is an Open Heart — Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. What a beautiful book, Beth. I love reading about your choices. I know that it will be a book that I can easily share with my young friends. Hope Is An Open Heart is no different. The activities you listed will be great expanded knowledge engagements, too. We may even create our own book of hope with the children’s dictated quotes from their illustrations. Thank you, Beth.

  2. Such a very appropriate selection today with the tragedy that’s occurred in Connecticut this morning. It sounds like a beautiful book that could be used for many situations. I really enjoyed the text you shared. Very inspiring and uplifting.

    1. As someone whose anxiety pattern began in childhood, I can certainly empathize with your little guy, Kirsten. This book would be very helpful, and I think Nicky’s Happy Hero books, like Goodbye Mr. Worrythoughts, would help, too.

  3. I wanted to cry just looking at the cover. Hope is a big word in my limited vocabulary. I often visit people who survive on that one word – Hope. And they do it with strength and grace. It’s a beautiful word and looks like a beautiful book. I’ll have to look for this one. Thanks!

  4. I think this book has one of the most beautiful titles I’ve ever heard, and I can’t believe it’s the book you chose for what turned out to be this PPBF. What better choice could there be for all the grieving children in Newtown, CT. And plenty of other situations. Like Julie said, children’s authors are the guardians of childhood. If an author can offer them hope when hey need it most, how amazing is that?

  5. It’s important for children to voice their fears, so this book is a perfect choice, especially, as others have mentioned, in light of SandyHook. Thanks for being sensitive to the situation at hand, Beth!

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