Choosing Hope: How I Moved Forward from Life's Darkest Hour

Choosing Hope: How I Moved Forward from Life's Darkest Hour

Choosing Hope: How I Moved Forward from Life's Darkest Hour

Choosing Hope: How I Moved Forward from Life's Darkest Hour


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“[S]tirring . . . a bold, inspiring and ultimately hopeful book.” —Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of the New York Times bestseller Thrive

“A beautiful portrait of the power of hope and love in the healing of a person, a community, and a country.” —Gabrielle Giffords, former congresswoman and New York Times bestselling author

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis is the first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who saved her entire class of fifteen six- and-seven-year-olds from the tragic events that took place on December 14, 2012, by piling them into a single-occupancy bathroom within her classroom, mere feet from the brutal and indiscriminate massacre taking place outside the door. Since then, despite the unimaginably painful experiences she endured, she has chosen to share her experience with others, in the hope that they, too, can find light in dark moments.

Choosing Hope is a lot of things. A written witness to a tragedy that will never be forgotten. A gripping firsthand testament to the power of good over the power of destruction. An inspirational memoir by a brave young woman whose story is one of courage, hero'sm, faith, and resilience. And a celebration of all the people who make the choice to pass along their hope and positivity to young ones—parents, mentors, and especially teachers. There is no moving on, but there is always moving forward. And how we move forward is a choice.

*Books for a Better Life Award Finalist*

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425282311
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 533,225
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis is the founder of the nonprofit Classes 4 Classes Inc. which teaches compassion, caring, and empathy through active engagement to children across the United States. Previously, she was a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. DeBellis has been honored as a Glamour magazine Woman of the Year and a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, and she received the Dedicated Teacher Award from the Chicago International Conference on Education. She has been featured in People, Marie Claire, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan; has been a guest on The Katie Couric Show; and is a motivational speaker for school boards, administrators, teachers, and students.

Read an Excerpt


“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Alice, to the Cheshire Cat, in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Excerpted from "Choosing Hope"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Jay Mathews

Roig-DeBellis, a brave teacher who saved her kids, reveals one of the least known and most bewildering stories from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. When she asked for a few common-sense accommodations for her traumatized first-graders — such as a better door and a ladder out a window - she was told to stop asking. She didn't. Finally faced with the choice of continuing to advocate for her students' safety and peace of mind, or keeping quiet to be able to stay in her classroom, she decided she couldn't be silent about what mattered most and had to leave. So she found a way to help all students nationwide with a new approach to teaching kindness. It is a book that parents and teachers will connect with deeply. --Jay Mathews, Washington Post education columnist and bestselling author of Work Hard. Be Nice.

Karen Armstrong

A brave book by a courageous woman that reveals the healing power of compassion. --Karen Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and The History of God

Amanda Ripley

For anyone who has despaired at the human condition, at the horrors we perpetrate onto each other, Kaitlin Roig-Debellis tells a story that shares our heartbreak and then, just as persuasively, offers us the only possible way forward. --Amanda Ripley, New York Times bestselling author of The Smartest Kids in the World and The Unthinkable

author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators - Tony Wagner

Choosing Hope is an inspiring story of a young teacher's triumph over the unimaginable tragedy of the Sandy Hook school massacre. It is also a cautionary tale about school administrators who don't listen. There are many more Kaitlins in our classrooms than we know. We must cherish them.

Adam Braun

A beautifully written book that demonstrates the power of the human spirit. --Adam Braun, New York Times bestselling author of The Promise of a Pencil

Professor Isaac Ashkenazi

What a fantastic, straightforward and authentic book. In CHOOSING HOPE, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis exemplifies the power of the five dimensions of crisis leadership by successfully confronting the critical questions that have long concerned those of us in the field of crisis leadership, such controlling how deep into the emotional basement we fall and also how to ascend out of it. But all readers--especially teachers, parents and those in emergency professions--will find much to stimulate their thinking in this book, which contains everything anyone needs to know about overcoming trauma. I'll be recommending it to all of my colleagues. --Professor Isaac Ashkenazi, International Expert for Crisis Management & Leadership, Ben Gurion University of the Negev

From the Publisher

“Every day teachers go beyond the call of duty, touching children's lives…Kaitlin is proof of that in so many ways."
—Otha Thornton, president of National PTA  

Wally Lamb

Stranded on an island of unfathomable tragedy and profound despair in the days after she and her students survived the horror of the Sandy Hook murders, first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis looked longingly at life proceeding on the mainland of normalcy. Choosing Hope is her moving account of how she returned to that mainland by promoting generosity and accessing faith and positive thinking. Readers who themselves are grieving may find comfort in Roig-DeBellis's story and her design for moving forward. --Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Water and She's Come Undone

former congresswoman and bestselling author - Gabrielle Giffords

In Choosing Hope, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis shows what being tough, courageous, and compassionate is all about. In the face of unspeakable tragedy and horror, she gives us a beautiful portrait of the power of hope and love in the healing of a person, a community, and a country.

former First Lady of the United States - Laura Bush

Teachers rescue children every day by teaching them the skills they need to succeed in life. But no teacher expects to have to rescue her students from a deadly attack. Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis's quick thinking and swift action saved her students' lives. In her book, Choosing Hope, Kaitlin honors the memory of the children and educators whose lives were lost on that sad day.

Reading Group Guide

CHOOSING HOPE Reading Group Guide

1. After seeing Kaitlin’s journey in the months following the events of December 14, 2012, what parts of her personality and her circumstances do you think were most important in allowing her to ultimately move forward with her life

2. In some ways, Kaitlin used this experience to deepen her relationships with those around her. Can you think of examples of this in the book? Have you ever found this to be true in your own life—that tragedy caused you to become closer to others?

3. How does fairness play a role in this story? Do you think it’s a principle that is very important to Kaitlin, or does she prioritize other values over it?

4. How do you think that sharing her story has helped Kaitlin? Why is it important to hear what she went through that day? If you were Kaitlin, would you have chosen to share your story? Why or why not?

5. What makes choice the most powerful tool for Kaitlin in overcoming tragedy? How does it counteract the pain and despair that she feels?

6. How do you think that Kaitlin’s experience as a first-grade teacher has continued to influence her outlook on life outside the classroom? What does working with children teach us as adults?

7. What tools have you used to get past the most difficult experiences in your life? Are they similar to the things that Kaitlin does in the months after the attack?

8. Kaitlin's purpose in writing this book was to encourage people to move forward from even the most difficult times in their lives. Have you ever lived through a dark period, and, if so, how did you get through it? 

9. Choosing Hope was written as a tribute to teachers. Did it change your view of the teaching profession? And, if so, how?

10. Did you have a Mrs. Beaulier in your life? How did that teacher affect you?

11. Kaitlin begins most of her speeches with a quote by Nishan Panwar: "There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end the choice you make makes you." Do you agree? What is a choice you've made that has contributed significantly to you becoming the person you are today?

12. In the book, Kaitlin talks about a conflict she had with the superintendent over added safety measures for her class. Has there been a time in your life when you've shared your truth, even though it would have been easier to just go along?  Has there been a time when you stood up for something, even though it wasn't the popular choice, and found the truth set you free? 

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