Building Self-Esteem Through Picture Books: Sofia and the Heartmender


Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

The holiday season is upon us…I know that many bloggers have been reviewing holiday-themed books.  Here’s one that looks like a Christmas-type book, but what it celebrates is a child who learns to speak up for herself and overcome her fears.  This ties in with Universal Children’s Day which was started by the United Nations almost 60 years ago this week.  Millions of children all over the world lack the basic rights they are entitled to…nourishing food, clean water, an education, a safe environment in which to grow up in and parents who believe in them and are able to provide these things.

Building Self-Esteem Through Picftue Books,Show Me How,Positive Parental Participation

Sofia and the Heartmender

Written and illustrated by Marie Olofsdotter

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (reprinted 2007…original edition 1995)

Ages: 5 and up


Speaking up for oneself, self-esteem, overcoming fears, respecting onself, creative expression, night terrors, parental support.


From Amazon and Book Review:

”Sofia’s heart is broken in two when adults refuse to take her fears seriously. Parents and teacher alike trivialize the shadow monsters that follow her, but a wise dog guides her through a magical world where she meets the Heartmender. During the journey, Sofia confronts her fears, which then disappear, and the Heartmender heals Sofia’s heart with moonlight. Back in the real world, stronger with renewed self-esteem and confidence, Sofia makes her feelings known to the adults and asks that they be respected. Olofsdotter has created a rich and inspiring story by carefully crafting a dynamic between text and illustrations. Richly colored and exquisitely detailed, the illustrations add information and evoke the mythical time and space where the wounded self is healed. A book to be enjoyed at various levels by young and older children alike.”

Why do I like this book:

I love the message in this story…a child learns to overcome her fears and speak up for herself, gaining a positive self-image.  This is a story about a strong capable young girl and would be a wonderful book to help parents understand how important it is to listen to their children and take what they say seriously.   It also points out that teachers often expect children to ‘color within the lines’…instead of encouraging creative expression in every child.  I also love the illustrations and ethnicity of the characters…from the look of the main characters and the surroundings, I get the feeling that the story is placed in Mexico or South America.

Related Activities:


If you are looking for a VERY easy heartmender ornament, try this one.


Photo courtesy:

You will need: 1 piece of red construction paper, 1 piece of red tissue paper, several cotton balls, glue, scissors, piece of ribbon, hole puncher.

  1. Cut the red construction paper into a heart shape.
  2. Pull the cotton balls apart and glue pieces around the heart edge.
  3. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces.  Crumbple each piece and glue inside the heart shape.
  4. Punch a hole in the top middle and thread the ribbon through so the heart can be hung up.  Make sure you put your child’s name and the date on the back of the ornament…in later years you will look back and remember when it was made.


If you want a heartmender ornament that is a little more complicated, please visit:

You will find materials needed and a video tutorial.


Photo and instructions courtesy:

show me how build your child's self-esteem, positive parental participation 


Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft (like the diorama above) and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy on Amazon of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At $24.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Buy your copy today!  My website is still offering free shipping AND a beautiful hand-crafted fabric bookmark…limited time only!  Offer ends December 30th!create a peaceful home,,free bookmarks,show me how build your child's self-esteem

28 thoughts on “Building Self-Esteem Through Picture Books: Sofia and the Heartmender

  1. What a beautiful selection with a powerful message for children. I love that Sofia overcomes her fears and expresses herself to family. A universal story for the theme this week. Will have to check it out — also feels spiritual.


    • It is quite spiritual, Pat…kind of a vision quest type story, I think.  It’s a powerful message to parents and teachers as well…how many of us are afraid to ‘illustrate’ because a teacher indicated our picture didn’t look like a house or tree or whatever?  And how any people are reluctant to sing in public because they were told they didn’t have a ‘good’ voice and couldn’t be in the school chorus group?  Too many, I think. 🙂   


    • Thank you SO much for coming by and commenting here, Bethany!  I’m hapy to be part of the new Google+ community, Great Books for Kids.  Perhaps some of the kid lit community that participate in Perfect Picture Book Friday will hop over and take a look at your blog.   


  2. Fabulous activities, as always, Vivian. It is sad but true that adults do not always take children’s fears seriously. I love the solution i this story. Great choice!


    • Glad you liked the story and activities, Joanna…it is a beautifully illustrated book…the author/illustrator is a Swedish born artist who has worked all over the world…as of the printing of this book, was was teaching mask-making and puppetry to children in Minneapolis.  I think I will google her and find out if she is still there. 🙂   


    • Thanks so much, Sandi…glad you liked the book and activity   Sometimes parents find it difficult because they are so overwhemed with all that they are doing. 🙂   But we do need to remember that because it makes a huge impact on our children when they know we are listening to them.  


  3. This book sounds magical, Vivian – thank you so much for adding it to our list! And I love your activities – especially perfect for this time of year, and for this moment in time when many hearts need mending. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


    • Glad you liked it, Susanna…yes, the heartmending seems like a perfect choice for the events this past week…unfortunately. 😦 We are so lucky to be writing/illustrating picture books for young children…what an amazing opportunity to provide beauty and hope. 🙂   


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