With schools closed and libraries and bookstores shuttered, a number of authors, publishers and organizations are offering free books online to help kids understand the novel coronavirus and cope with sheltering in place.
Alameda author and artist Freeman Ng has released a lovely picture book focusing on the positives of being home with family called The House We Sheltered In. It’s based on the classic English rhyme "The House That Jack Built." The book can be read online or downloaded, printed and assembled into a physical book. A video of the book is available on YouTube.
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, the associate director of the Child Trauma Research Program at UCSF, has written Once I Was Very Scared, a picture book illustrated by husband Erich Ippen Jr., in which animals talk about being scared, how it makes them feel and how they can help each other feel better. While not specific to coronavirus, it’s an approachable way for young children to understand and discuss their feelings during this potentially scary time. The book is available as a free download in English and six other languages or can be purchased on Amazon. Accompanying resources include printable handouts and finger puppets.
Scholastic and the Yale Child Study Center are offering First Aid for Feelings: A Workbook to Help Kids Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic by child development expert Denise Daniels. The 16-page downloadable workbook, available in English and Spanish, offers activities to help young children ask questions and share information about the coronavirus, as well as express their feelings and find ways to cope.
In the picture book Where Did Everyone Go?, South African writer and artist Iain S. Thomas explains why we’re all inside: "So because we care about each other so much, we’ve decided that the best way to show each other how much we love each other, is just to spend a bit of time apart, while those of us who aren’t feeling well get better." He also offers tips for handwashing and beating back "the bored."
For a fact-based approach to coronavirus for kids, Nosy Crow has published the free online book Coronavirus: A Book for Children. Cartoon drawings explain what the virus is, how one catches it, why people are staying home and how that can feel, ways kids can help and more.
My Hero is You: How Kids Can Fight COVID-19 tells the story of a young girl named Sara and her red dragon as they travel around the world sharing the message of how children can keep themselves and others safe from the coronavirus, and the emotions they feel while grappling with major changes in their lives. The tale is based on responses from 1,700 children, parents and teachers from around the world who were surveyed about how they were coping with the pandemic. It was created in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, Save the Children and other participants in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. It is meant to be read to children by a parent, teacher or caregiver and not independently by young children.
The picture book Tomorrow was created by a group of artists to explain COVID-19 and social distancing to kids. It's available as a free download, but its creators are also seeking donations to benefit the CDC Foundation. The story ends on a hopeful note that many of us could use right now: "Tomorrow isn't far away. The next day comes soon after. Each day will bring us closer to our normal life and laughter."
When We All Stayed Home is a coloring book created by the Headwaters Relief Organization, a disaster relief nonprofit. It provides information about COVID-19, as well as ways children can protect themselves, common reactions to stress, and homeschooling and self-care strategies for parents. Books are $5 and the organization will donate a book for each one purchased.