Held In Hope Anniversary: Celebrating 10 years of extra special support
10 years ago, we published four special books by Victoria Beech and the Paediatric Children's Network to be an extraordinary resource to those who care for young children at the worst of times!
The Held in Hope series are four sensitively written, beautifully illustrated stories of young children facing a hospital stay, serious or life limiting illness, dealing with death of a sibling and showing them where God, and Jesus are in these frightening experiences. They are written to help those who care with the words that escape us at this crucial time of need and help start the most difficult conversations parents and carers encounter.
We are linking our celebrations to the World Children’s Day on November 20th 2021 and telling the story of how Christian Education was approached by Paul Nash to work in partnership to write some books that would fill a vital gap faced in children’s hospital and hospice Chaplaincy’s. There were no resources available about how to talk to children about what was happening to them in simple, understandable language. There is a great focus on supporting parents, but the challenge was how to talk to children aged between 2-7 years old in gentle ways that would nurture and support them.
Victoria Beech, author shares her thoughts on the creation of this unique series;
"The Held in Hope series are the best books I’ve ever been involved in making. While working with Paul Nash and members of the Paediatric Chaplaincy Network, I learnt so much about caring for ill, dying and grieving children. They really are experts at this stuff, as they do it every day, working with families in children’s wards and in children’s hospitals around the country.
We worked hard to make the books work for all sorts of Christians, focusing on age-appropriate theology of sickness, death and heaven. The books tackle difficult topics head-on but in a gentle way, leaving space for families to have conversations about what they think and feel about it.
I read them to my children when they were really young, only toddlers. They responded to them just as they did any other book in our collection, treating the stories just as if they were The Grufallo! Afterwards, I wondered if they’d even really understood what we’d read. “Never mind,” I thought. “There’s plenty of time to read them again.”
About six months later, having not read them again yet, they had a profound conversation at bath time. Out of the blue, my three year old said: “Mummy, there’s no pain in heaven, is there?” To which my 2 year old replied: “No, Jesus, he wipe away all the pain like wiping up milk.” Wow.
Despite these being topics no parent really wants to have with their child, the best time to talk about sickness, death and grieving is when those topics aren’t pertinent. I’d recommend them to families who don’t (yet) need them, as they are the perfect way to start important conversations."
Read Victoria’s blog about the story behind the Held In Hope series
Rev Paul Nash, Chaplaincy Manager and Spiritual Care lead at Birmingham Children’s hospital explains;
"We continue to use and give away the books on a regular basis. Recently, I was asked to support a young teenager with cancer and had just been very sadly told there was no more effective treatment for him. He had lots of questions about what Heaven was like and would he being going. We read the Jo and his special book and watched the video together and discussed what he would like Heaven to be like and that God loved him very much.
The book and video really open up the conversation as he is a big fan of Bear Grylls. A golf course and a motor bike were requested! He said he hoped there was a room ready for him as we prayer together."
The four books focus on different issues that our children might encounter and are written through Joe, Maya, Sam and Josh’s experiences. Each of the books include helpful notes for parents, including questions and activities to use with young children and information of other resources and organisations;
- Jesus Still Loves Joe - explores a young child's experience of being a bereaved sibling and how important it is for such children to know that God loves them no matter how they feel. You can buy the book here
- Maya Goes to Hospital - tells the story of a child who discovers that Jesus is with her everywhere she goes, even in hospital. You can buy the book here
- Sam and his Special Book – this story explores Joe’s experience of being life limited and shows how important it is for such children to know that that Jesus is preparing a place especially for them and that they will always be remembered. You can buy the book here
- Josh Stays in Hospital - is about a child who often has to stay in hospital and discovers that Jesus is with him and will help him. You can buy the book here
To further help engage children, each of the stories have been made in to four 5-minute cartoons which have been voiced by Bear Grylls– they are FREE to use and available on our YouTube channel. Click on each story to watch them:
- Jesus Still Loves Joe video
- Maya Goes to Hospital video
- Sam and his Special Book video
- Josh Stays in Hospital video
These four books, as Victoria and Paul have described give parents and carers the ability to open up conversations about the most challenging life experiences that their loved ones will face, and provide the right words at the right time. They are a rich resource for families, schools and Churches and are still a best seller.
To celebrate this 10 year anniversary of ‘Held in Hope’ we have a SPECIAL OFFER:You can buy all 4 books for just £15 from our web shop!
To read more about the writing of the series you can read Victoria’s blog and you can get involved in more events celebrating ‘Held in Hope’:
- 1 November 2021 – we will be talking about these books and their impact using social media and our networking groups. Follow hashtags #HeldInHope #WorldChildrensDay
- 15 November 2021 – join Victoria and Paul for a Facebook live session to discuss and reflect on Held In Hope and the impact they have had, and continue to have, on readers. We will also be offering some free sets of books.
- 20 November 2021 – join Victoria and Paul for a Facebook live session where we will select our prize winners and support World Children’s Day.
Ellie, a Primary School Teacher summed up the Held in Hope series: "The thing that struck me most about these books is that they give an accurate yet appropriate portrayal of these issues. They don't seek to give a false hope of 'it's-ok-because-Jesus-loves-us' attitude. They genuinely show the emotional rollercoaster of life.
Would I recommend these to a family? Absolutely! I'm so glad that the Church is finally producing such high-quality, engaging and beautiful resources for children"
Buy the Held in Hope series today for your family, friends, Church, or local school; you might be just what they need right now.
Held in Hope is written by Victoria Beech and illustrated by Rhiannon Mollat, and they are published by Christian Education.