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Coronavirus: A book for children (and other worthy titles)

UPDATE: Pat Sarles is maintaining an excellent LibGuide on free children’s ebooks about COVID-19.

It begins like this:

There’s a new word you might have heard.
You might hear people talking about it or you might hear it on the news.
This word is the reason that you’re not going to school. It is the reason you
can’t go outside very often or visit your friends. It might be the reason why
the grown-up or grown-ups who look after you are at home.

I suspect so many of us are struggling to explain terrifying news and a completely disrupted world to the children we serve, teach and love.

Nosy Crow just released the free digital book, Coronavirus: A Book for Children. It should help.

Written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson, and Nia Roberts, and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the project engaged the advice of consultant Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Educators and a child psychologist also offered expert input.

Each page begins with a question.

  • What is the coronavirus?
  • How do you catch the coronavirus?
  • What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
  • Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
  • Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
  • Why are some places we normally go to closed?
  • What can I do to help?
  • What’s going to happen next?

Aimed at children ages five through nine, these questions are answered in accessible and honest text that addresses the information children need, while acknowledging their confusion, what it feels like to be trapped at home, their interest in helping, and their concerns for the future. Illustrator Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) uses his art to convey both empathy and optimism.

The announcement on the Nosy Crow website shared this statement from illustrator Scheffler:

I asked myself what I could do as a children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus. I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.

The announcement also shared Dr. Medley’s thoughts on the value of the project:

This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them. This book puts children IN the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.

And indeed, it ends like this, with children in the picture.

Please share Coronavirus: A Book for Children with your parents and teachers.

Update: After I wrote this post, I discovered another title you will likely want to share.

My Hero is You: How Kids Can Help Fight Covid-19, a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG) with input from parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries following a multi-language global survey to assess children’s mental health and psychosocial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, the book follows Sara, whose mum is a scientist, on her dream journey. On the wings of Ario, Sara shares with children around the world how to protect themselves so they can protect everyone else.

 My Hero is You: How
Kids Can Fight COVID-19
. ©IASC, 2020 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO)

The book is meant to be read by an adult with a child or a small group of children. A supplementary activity guide, Actions for Heroes, which will offer support and help children manage feelings, is in the works.

 My Hero is You: How
Kids Can Fight COVID-19
. ©IASC, 2020 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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