In times of heightened anxiety for children, parents turn to clinicians for help. Sharing COVID-19 resources for children, including stories, can help them make sense of the pandemic.
I usually FaceTime with my four-year-old nephew, Jasper, on my lunch break at the hospital. I wave at him from across the Atlantic Ocean and ask him how his day went—he’s five hours ahead. Lately, I’ve been wearing a surgical mask on our phone calls—our hospital recently permitted wearing face masks at all times. Initially I described it as my “costume” for work, but he’s wise beyond his years and undoubtedly picked up on the anxiety behind my mask. He would furrow his expressive little brows with concern. I realized that I needed a better way to explain the coronavirus disease to him.
I’ve never tried to write a book, despite how much I love to read. My mom is an artist, but I can barely draw a stick figure. However, I figured Jasper would be forgiving, so I sat down on a day off to write him an illustrated story that could help him make sense of the new world around him. In the story, Mr. Corona—a virus with a penchant for playing hurtful tricks on humans—is defeated by two children, Jasper and Tabitha. Tabitha, Jasper’s baby sister in real life and in the story, is the book’s wise teacher, helping Jasper prevent the spread of coronavirus and share their success with others around the world.
Jasper seemed to enjoy the book, although he was a bit offended by Mr. Corona inhabiting trains, as a train is his second favorite thing in the world after a book. My sister encouraged me to share the story with the world. I have faith in Jasper and Tabitha and in their ability to change how we cope with infectious disease. I have faith in tinies all over the world to do so. I hope that clinicians and parents won’t shy away from explaining the virus to children. Instead, honor their curiosity about this disease. I hope this book helps them do just that.