Schools are closed and the kids are at home. As families hunker down and wait out the coronavirus crisis, how do you explain this new reality to children? What should they know to keep themselves – and others around them – safe and healthy?
Here is a look at some free reading material and a series of illustrations that convey, through age-appropriate language, what the coronavirus is and what precautions should be taken to curb its spread.
Stay in your cave!
Who has terrible claws and purple prickles all over his back? The monstrous Gruffalo, that’s who. The creators of this storybook monster, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, have reimagined the Gruffalo - alongside well-loved characters from other books - in a series of 12 images that show how they cope with the pandemic. The Gruffalo, for instance, always maintains a strict 2m distance from others when outside his cave. And Charlie Cook is being good by staying at home and reading to his cat and his mouse.
A booklet for kids
Written by staff at Nosy Crow, an independent publishing company, Coronavirus: A Book For Children addresses some pertinent questions - How do you catch the coronavirus? What happens if you do? Why are some places we normally go to closed? - in simple language, suitable for children ages five and up. The book has had expert input: Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant. Two head teachers and a child psychologist were also enlisted for advice. This free booklet is illustrated by The Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler.
Follow Sara and Ario's adventures
Fly away on an adventure around the world with winged creature Ario as he soars to the skies. "My Hero Is You’’ is a project of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings. Aimed to help children (aimed at 6-11 year olds) understand and come to terms with Covid-19, this is a collaboration between more than 50 organisations working in the humanitarian sector, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The book has several translations available, with more on the way. Story script and illustrations by Helen Patuck. Check out this reading by English singer-songwriter Howard Donald.
Why is school closed?
In Olive Stays In by Jade Maitre, Olive’s school is closed, her sports carnival has been postponed, there is no one out on the streets even though the weather is nice and sunny. She is worried because she heard that people all around the world are getting sick. Through a conversation with her father, she learns about what is happening and the reason why they have to stay home. An audio version is also available on the website.
The hard facts explained
Social epidemiologist Malia Jones pairs bold designs with her practical take on explaining the nitty gritty of the virus and the pandemic to young readers in A Kids Book About Coronavirus. She addresses all the basics here and doles out down-to-earth advice: What is the role of snot and spit in transmitting germs? Why do you need to wash your hands? How can you practise better personal hygiene to keep everyone safe?
Doctor Li, the unsung hero
The newly released Doctor Li And The Crown-Wearing Virus by Francesca Cavallo, the co-creator of the Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls series, is an illustrated book that can be downloaded for free. It tells the story of the late Dr Li and his role in trying to warn about the coronavirus outbreak. At the end of last year, Dr Li Wenliang, who worked at Wuhan Central Hospital, was among those who sounded an alarm on the virus. He got into trouble for this and was accused by officials of spreading rumours. Eventually, it became a global pandemic and he died from the virus himself in February. His death sparked anger and grief all over China. Today, he is widely regarded as a hero for raising concerns on the coronavirus despite efforts to silence him.
How about a zine comic?
American non-profit radio outfit NPR has gone beyond the airwaves and put out a cool zine called A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus. It is the handiwork of Malaka Gharib, NPR Deputy Editor and Digital Strategist, who gathered all the facts that children need to know about Covid-19 and translated them into a cut-out and foldable children's comic book. Parents or teachers can help children download it and make it into a DIY-looking zine, which adds to the tactile experience. To date, the comic has been translated into several languages, including English and Chinese.
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