Hoda Kotb knew just where to look for inspiration for her third children's book: It's the tiny girl who came into her life when she adopted her in 2019.
It’s the same girl who recently turned 4 and fearlessly learned to ride a bike with no training wheels this summer. It’s the girl who, as Hoda writes in the dedication of the book, “will always give away her last blueberry.”
She sees magic in everything.”
hoda kotb on her daughter, hope
Hope Catherine, Hoda’s youngest daughter, is the muse behind “Hope Is A Rainbow,” a book coming out in March of 2024 that demonstrates the importance of optimism and having a positive outlook.
“My daughter Hope is so inspiring to me,” Hoda tells TODAY.com. “She’s a little child, but with a real kind of old spirit, an old soul. There’s something about her in how she sees magic in everything.”
While discussing the book, Hoda gives a rare glimpse into her second child’s personality.
Hope has been drawn to rainbows since she was a baby, Hoda says. “A rainbow to me represents something that you can’t quite touch, but it’s magical and amazing. So when I thought about how I carry Hope in my heart, I realized, ‘She IS a rainbow.’ She’s this beautiful, magical, incredible child. It just got me thinking about all the things where kids find magic and hope, and this book is full of that.”
Illustrated by Chloe Dominique, the book playfully depicts Hoda’s daughters — Haley, 6, with her signature glasses, and Hope wearing purple butterfly wings — in a variety of settings as they search for symbols of hope.
“Hope is a feeling … It’s finding your smile after wearing a frown … and realizing YOU can turn things around. It’s solving a problem and thinking it through. Anything’s possible when you believe in YOU,” Hoda writes in the book.
“Hope is a feeling … It’s finding your smile after wearing a frown … and realizing YOU can turn things around. It’s solving a problem and thinking it through. Anything’s possible when you believe in YOU.”
Though Hoda says she wrote the book over a year ago, she says her youngest daughter has recently taught her more about hope than she could have expected.
In late February, Hope was hospitalized in the ICU for an illness. Upon returning to TODAY after being gone for a few weeks, Hoda told viewers that she was grateful her daughter was home and getting better.
“My youngest, Hope, was in the ICU for a few days and in the hospital for a little more than a week,” Hoda said on the March 6 broadcast. “She is back home. I was waiting for that day to come. And we are watching her closely. I’m just so happy.”
Now, Hoda gets emotional as she describes what she’s learned from Hope in the past year.
“She has taught me that you’re stronger than you think you are. She has that ability to be optimistic and hopeful no matter what kind of challenges lay before you,” Hoda says. “She’s taught me that resilience comes in all kinds of packages and that kids are incredibly strong. She’s also taught me to find wonder in the smallest things.”
Hoda shares that on a recent bike ride with her daughters, Hope hit her brakes to stop, and said, “Mama, Look at the yellow daisy!” Hoda says they stopped to admire the flowers when Hope said, “Guess what happens after a while? It’s going to become one of those things that you blow the seeds off.”
The flowers were actually dandelions, which are known for having a strong association with hope and optimism. Blowing the seeds are one traditional way to make a wish.
“I’m watching this child as she holds (the dandelion) and says, ‘It’s for you, Mama.’ It’s such a reminder that all of this goodness can exist in one human being. She lives up to her name and beyond,” Hoda says.
Hoda first became a mother when she and her ex-fiance, Joel Shiffman, adopted daughter Haley in 2017. Hope was adopted two years later. In reflecting on why she chose her younger daughter’s name, Hoda explains that it just made sense because it was, quite literally, hope that brought Hope to her family.
“You know, I was dreaming and praying for a child like her. And then it became a reality. Every night I tell her: ‘I love you. I’m proud of you. I think you’re terrific. And I’m glad you’re mine,’” Hoda says, adding: “She’s taught me that dreams come true.”