There is no arguing that the last few months have been stressful for all, including the youngest ones in our lives. It can be difficult to explain to children what a virus is, and how it has affected the way we interact with others. Here is a selection of online resources to share with the children in your home to help them navigate the changes we are all experiencing.
Using the questions and feedback from hundreds of adults and children in over 100 countries, author and illustrator Susan Patuk has created My Hero is You. With a blend of science and fantasy, Patuk’s story revolves around little Sara who is struggling to understand a frightening new virus that even her mother, the best scientist in the world, cannot cure. A magical creature appears, from Sara’s imagination, to help guide her through the difficult realities of the pandemic and helps her see the part she can play in keeping safe. My Hero is You is offered for download free of charge through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings in numerous languages and can be accessed through their website www.interagencystandingcommittee.org.
Painting and hiding rocks to bring a smile to those who come across them is not new to Thunder Bay, and a great way to use a pastime your child may already be aware of and enjoy to help cope with the current pandemic. Vancouver mom Amanda Marshall has written Rock Monster Friends and made it available in three languages at www.rockmonsterfriends.com free of charge. Short and sweet, the story is full of bold, bright colours and bouncy rhymes. In addition to encouraging social distancing, Marshall’s website offers ideas for painting rocks and placing them (always remember to follow public health guidelines) to spread some joy.
Another free, downloadable resource attempts to address children’s concerns with easy to understand language and factual information. Written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson, and Nia Roberts of Nosy Crow Publishing, Coronavirus: A Book For Children features illustrations by Axel Scheffler who is probably most recognized for his work in Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo. The authors consulted with educators (including a professor of infectious disease modelling) and a child psychologist to help develop this question-and-answer guide geared for children ages 5 to 9. Coronavirus: A Book for Children can be read directly on the website, downloaded as a pdf, or listen to the eAudiobook, all at no cost. Visit www.nosycrow.com to find links to all versions.
TBPL also offers a variety of eBooks through cloudLibrary to help open discussions about the many emotions your child may be feeling. Monique Gray Smith’s My Heart Fills with Happiness is a gorgeous board book that will help you and your child focus on joy, even for just a little while. Illustrated by Julie Flett, this eBook is available in Plains Cree, English, and French versions. To help calm and relax, try Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo, and learn easy yoga poses while following Bunny as he tries to help his friends slow down. If your child is struggling with anxiety with a constant full house as you attempt to self-isolate, choose Violet Shrink by Christing Baldacchino, illustrated by Carmen Mok. It’s a sweet tale of a little girl who prefers quiet and solitude while her family loves to bring the noise. If you haven’t tried cloudLibrary yet, or need help setting up or logging in, visit tbpl.ca/ebooks or email firstname.lastname@example.org and our staff will be happy to assist.
Jana O’Flaherty – http://www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you.