Back to School?
Whether or not your school is held normally or remotely, no one knows how this pandemic will actually affect our kids. And, although we may not be able to change policy decisions, we can make sure that we pay attention to our kid’s mental health, their anxiety, and their worries no matter how things play out.
As someone who has worked in education for over twenty years, I know that teachers and parents have too much on their plate already. Who has time to research an entirely new market of books? Therefore, as someone with experience in publishing and education, I have created a list of the top children’s books currently on the market which discuss the pandemic in simple terms, are not scary, and help to ease children’s fears about going back to school.
How I Created This List
Since I published a book about the pandemic called The Day the Lines Changed back in March, I have been scanning the market for similar children's books about Covid-19. I have read, joined forums, connected with other writers, and checked Amazon bestseller lists. In addition, when I decided to create this list, I asked my colleagues in the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, other forums, social media, friends, and family for their favorites and received over one hundred recommendations for children's books about the coronavirus.
As traditional publishers usually need months (to years!) to bring out new books, there are a lot of independent publishers who have stepped up to fill the need. Some of these children's books about the coronavirus are great, others less so. From a child spraying bleach (never a good idea) to another being chased by germs, many of them get so specific in their explanation of the virus, whether through text or elaborate illustrations that they actually come across as frightening. I find this unfortunate as I think children are already overwhelmed enough as things are. As most of these books have been published quickly (and some are from first time writers and teachers), I am not going to judge them too harshly for having a less than perfect layout or a text that could have used a bit more editing. Instead, I am judging these books on what matters most, how much kids will like, understand, and learn from them and how well teachers can use them in the classroom.
Here are ten books to start your school year off right!
Best Coronavirus Children’s Books
for Back to School - 2020
Best Resource for medical information:
Coronavirus: A Book for Children
Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson, et.al
This book about the Coronavirus, written by experts and teachers, is more of an informative brochure than a story. However, with beautiful illustrations from Axel Sheffler, the illustrator of the Gruffalo, and plenty of information surrounding Covid-19, such as how you can catch it and why we have to stay inside, it is a must for any school library. This book is meant to be read and discussed together.
Free download and Kindle available.
Heartwarming Story about Life During Lockdown:
Paula and the Pandemic
by Dorothea Lawrence
This is a beautiful story about a little girl who is unable to see her best friend due to the pandemic. The author compares lockdown to waiting on a Sunflower to bloom and uses the analogy to teach Paula that although it seems like a long time, she will be able to play with her best friend again soon. Written by a mother who knows what it’s like to be with small children during a pandemic, and with fantastic illustrations, Paula and the Pandemic is great for young children who can’t wait to see their friends again. Much of the proceeds are also helping Doctors without Borders.
Paperback: $8.25 Also on Kindle
Affect on Climate Change:
by Emily House
This clever little book which touches on how the Coronavirus has impacted the environment is one of my favorites. What happens when the earth gets sick? Perhaps it goes to the doctor or even takes a holiday. With adorable illustrations and an earth that is so cute you just want to give her a hug, Earth Takes a Break is a nice addition to the other Coronavirus children’s books because it puts attention on the affect that our lives have on the earth. Plus, 10% of the profits from the book also go to help children with disabilities in Africa.
Available on Kindle and soon in paperback (Pre-order on website)
Friendship while social distancing:
by Eoin McLaughlin, ill. Polly Dunbar
What happens when a tortoise and a hedgehog are best friends? They learn that there are other ways to express their affection other than giving each other a hug. A great book to teach children that social distancing does not have to stop friends from being close.
Paperback: $9.77 Also on Kindle
Reassurance and Hope for Toddlers:
Not Forever, But For Now
by Heather Malley
There are so many things that children are unable to do at the moment, from going to school to seeing their friends. Not Forever, But For Now is written for young children giving examples of things that are different at the moment while giving hope that things will change for the better soon. It also gives children reassurance that their feelings are okay. The founder and director of a preschool, it’s clear that Heather knows that toddlers have worries, too and sometimes need someone to listen to them.
Paperback: $12.95 Also on Kindle
First Day of School Ice-Breaker:
This simple little book surprised me when I found it and is a good ice-breaker for kids going back to school this fall. "Wear your mask on your face... not on your elbows." This book explains some of the new rules for schools in a way that will make children giggle. It's clear that Adreinne, a first grade school teacher, knows that humor is the best medicine.
A humorous guide to teach your child essential rules for back to school during Covid-19.
by Adrienne Barber
Paperback $10.00 Also on Kindle.
Cute and Fun for Little Ones:
by Katie Sedmak
This is an adorable rhyming book which uses animals to show that there are ways we can show our affection and love in different ways than we are used to. If You Can't Bear Hug, Air Hug is the first book that I have seen about the pandemic which is cute and fun and yet still warm and comforting. A great story even really little children will love.
Paperback: $9.49 Also on Kindle
A Little Bit of Everything for Primary School Children
Stay At HomeIll. Darren Gate
Poems and Prose for Children Living in Lockdown
This group of poems and prose was put together by 40 writers in Scotland and has a lot of great stories for primary school children of all ages. From "The Worst Birthday Ever" to "A Witches Guide to Staying at Home" you'll find plenty of fun things to read to your class or use as examples for activities. You've got to give these authors credit for writing so many funny stories about such a difficult topic.
Not available in paperback. Free online.
Masks Can Be Fun:
by Lisa Sirkis Thomson, ill. John Thomson
Lucy is bored until she discovers that her mom is making her a mask. Lucy explains why she loves masks and that when you wear them you can be anyone you want to be. A nice way to get children to be less apprehensive about wearing masks and with cute illustrations. I only wish this book would have been a few pages longer.
Paperback: $10.77 Also on Kindle
Dealing with Death:
by Eva Hibbs, ill. Sarah Harrison
Although a very difficult topic to write a children’s book about, this book does it with ease and is the only book that I have added that does not directly discuss the virus, lockdown, or social distancing in some way or another. The author lets children know that it’s okay to ask where a loved one has gone and that everyone has a different idea as to what happens after someone passes, many of them quite beautiful and inspiring. In addition, the bold and bright illustrations in this book show that death is not always grey. If you have a student who is dealing with loss, this book will help to ease their fears of the unknown.
Not available on Amazon (yet). Currently online. Buy Where is Uncle Al? at Eva Hibbs.com
I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. It's clear that this virus has affected children all over the world. This list alone contains authors from all around the globe, including the US, Scotland, and South Africa. My best wishes to everyone who is going back to school this fall. Whether teacher, parent, or child, I wish you all the best.
Happy reading and stay safe!
If you would like to know more about my book The Day the Lines Changed, please see below.
A resource for parents and teachers:
A picture book for children ages 2-6, The Day the Lines Changed, tells the story of a green line in a town where the lines suddenly turn crooked. As the green line begins to worry if her family will also become crooked, an exciting discovery is made which changes the lives of the lines forever. The only Coronavirus children’s book to use a story as a metaphor for the current situation regarding Covid-19, The Day the Lines Changed can be used to explain to even very young children what a pandemic is without ever saying the word "virus" or "pandemic." All proceeds in April and March went to help charities that support children’s mental health.
Paperback: 9.99 Also on Kindle
Free lesson plans, media kit, a story-time video and other A Little Donnerwetter Books can be found at KelleyDonner.com.
Best Coronavirus Children's Books, Part 2
Every day more coronavirus children's books are being published. If you would like to recommend a book please add it in the comments below (no links please). In addition, if you feel like your book should make the next list, please send me an email at EmpathyThink@gmail.com telling me why along with a pdf or a link to where I can read your story. Please put Submission: Best Coronavirus Children's Books in your subject line or your email will not be read. In 4-6 weeks, my plan is to do another blog post with more Coronavirus Children's Books. I look forward to reading yours.
Keywords: Coronavirus, children's books, pandemic, Covid-19, picture books