Schools are closed, teachers are adapting to distance learning, and many parents are juggling child care with remote work. Meanwhile, kids are at home navigating lots of news, as well as plenty of hoaxes, about the global pandemic that has radically altered their days. What do they need to know to understand current events without being overwhelmed?
“We always recommend that kids get their information about the news from important adults, not directly from the news,” said Jamie Howard, a senior clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute and the director of the Center’s Trauma and Resilience Service. Here are six age-appropriate books, videos and lesson plans that teachers and parents can use to help young people understand COVID-19 and its effects.
A Kids Book About Coronavirus by Malia Jones
Written by a social epidemiologist who studies how infectious diseases spread in human populations, this ebook pairs clean, bold design with kid-friendly language to explain COVID-19. When describing how the virus spreads, for example, Jones highlights the role of snot and spit in transmitting germs: “Those germs land on all sorts of things and stick there, sometimes for a few days. Door handles, tables, tablets, and pencils. Even sandwiches.”
Jones also frankly addresses children’s emotions — “I know this all might seem really scary and you might want to panic. … It’s OK to feel whatever you are feeling” — before concluding with actionable guidance, such as “Don’t pick your nose!” and “Cocoon for a little while.” The book is appropriate for ages 6 and up and available for free as a PDF or epub file for e-readers.
What is a Pandemic? And How Can You Stay Safe? E-book by Naomi O’Brien & LaNesha Tabb
Created by two teachers and available for free, this 18-page e-book includes explanations about pandemics and coronavirus suited to kindergarteners through third-graders. It also includes some historical background and guidance on how to stay healthy. The downloadable PDF is accompanied by three activities: a create-your-own poster template, a feelings check-in worksheet and a songwriting exercise to make hand-washing more fun.
TIME for Kids
Already a classroom mainstay for studying current events, the March 20, 2020 issues of TIME for Kids took a deep dive on coronavirus. With editions for grades 3 - 4 and 5 - 6, the magazine addressed government response to the pandemic, school responses and the economic impact. Teachers guides for the same grades (3 - 4 and 5 - 6) are also available.
Coronavirus: Protect Yourself And Stand Against Racism by Facing History and Ourselves
In the United States and elsewhere, the spread of coronavirus has been followed closely by a rise in bigotry toward people of Asian heritage. Racist scapegoating during health crises is not new, and current events present a teachable moment on history and fighting hate. In its educator guide tackling the issue, educational nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves provides resources for covering the facts about coronavirus, discussing the consequences of discrimination and prompting student reflection and action.