The Little House of Hope

Image featuring the book The Little House of Hope by Terry Catsús Jennings and Raúl Colón.


The Little House of Hope begins with an immigrant family from Cuba looking for affordable housing in the United States. They settle on a place that has a funky smell. Donated furniture and keepsakes give the home a cozy feel.

Papi, Mami, Esperanza and Manolo work all day and into the night for a better life. They dedicate themselves to turning their home into a happy place to live and thrive. 

Unrest in Cuba causes family members to flee the country. Relatives move to America and stay with Esperanza’s family. They find refuge in the small home. Everyone contributes in some way to support the growing household. 

When Mami meets a family from Mexico in need of shelter, she invites them to live in their crowded house. Their place fills with determined people who are full of hope.

As house guests find their footing and leave, other move in to the house. The immigrants find “the little house of hope” a safe place to stay as they navigate a new country. When guests leave, Esperanza presents them with a decorated poster. Her name fills the poster in both Spanish and English. The sign reads “Esperanza” and “Hope.” 

The Little House of Hope provides a window into the lives of immigrants. We see the love, pride and support a family from Cuba offers to other immigrants. They work together to establish a better life in a new country.  

The illustrations by award winning artist Raúl Colón show a happy experience. Smiling people work together to make a beautiful life in America. Colón’s work emulates the pride and love the families feel for one another as they establish a new home.

Two pages from the book The Little House of Hope by Terry Catasús Jennings and Raúl Colón. The illustrations highlight an immigrant family working hard for a better life in America.
Image from Edelweiss

The Little House of Hope Lesson Activity

Author Terry Catasús Jennings wrote this book because of an injustice. When Jennings immigrated to America, a realtor refused to help her family find a home. The realtor stated that he never rented to Hispanics because many families live together and ruin properties. Jennings wrote The Little House of Hope because she is still angry about the racist comment. Her story, based on her immigrant experience, disrupts the realtor’s racist comment.

Lesson Objective

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow ll.D.3 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by reflecting on their own place within the global learning community.

Objective: After reading about immigrants, learners will explain why it’s important to learn about different immigrant experiences.

Before Reading

  • Introduce the lesson by asking learners what they already know about immigrants. Record responses on chart paper.
  • Show the cover of The House of Hope. Ask learners what they can expect from reading the story.
  • Read the “Author’s Note” found on the copyright page. Ask learners to think of a time someone said something about them that wasn’t true. How did it make them feel? How did they react? Explain that people can use their anger to fuel positive change. Some do this by writing, like the author of The House of Hope.
  • Tell learners that as you read the story, their job is to consider what the author wants readers to know about the immigrants in her story.

After Reading

  • Ask learners what they learned about the immigrants in the story. Explain that they will learn about more immigrant experiences by visiting the Meet Young Immigrants page on the Scholastic website. Invite learners to read about the children and watch the videos.
  • Ask learners what they notice about the webpage. Explain that a great deal of work went into curating, designing and producing the webpage. Ask learners why Scholastic would dedicate that much work into creating the webpage about immigrant children. Give learners an opportunity to discuss their ideas.

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