The Novel Coronavirus: We Can Stay Safe
Bijal Vachharajani, Deepa Balsavar, Maegan Dobson Sippy, Meera Ganapathi, Nimmy Chacko, Rajiv Eipe, Sanjana Kapur
Available for free download on: https://storyweaver.org.in/stories/128586-the-novel-coronavirus-we-can-stay-safe
Appropriate for: 3+ years
You would imagine that being in the age group worst affected by the COVID-19 would make her break into a sweat but Ammachi, Rajiv Eipe’s beloved character seen earlier in Ammachi’s Amazing Machines, is made of sterner stuff. She is staying indoors with her grandson Sooraj and ensuring they follow all guidelines and instructions related to the novel coronavirus.
Ammachi is not the only one though. Some of our favourite characters from Pratham Books’s vast repertoire is back to talk to children about ways to keep themselves — and others — safe. There’s Neema teaching everyone how to wash their hands thoroughly and have fun while at it and Uma (a personal favourite since meeting her in Uma versus Upma) talking about pandemic etiquette; Bhaiya learns to deal with Dukduk in lockdown, Farida does not give up looking after her beloved strays, even though she is indoors now, and Nani exhorts her friends to do good deeds from the confines of their homes. After all, physical isolation need not mean mental alienation, and, in these dark days, thinking of ways to help others goes a long way.
The Mystery of the Missing Soap
Available for free download on: https://books.katha.org/e-books/
Appropriate for 4+ years
Tobakachi, the wicked Asura of GermGram, has evil plans for the happy village of Dakshinpur. Following the advice of his trusted comrade GermaAsura, he ensures that all the soaps in the village go missing so that the coronavirus army can bring to fruition his plan of taking over India. Soon, Dakshinpur is a hotbed of illnesses as people have no access to soaps or awareness of illness-hygiene practices. It is left to Tamasha, the helpful village elephant, and the bunch of reader-leaders led by Lachmi, to come up with an idea to foil Tobakachi’s plan.
Katha’s e-book and audio book for children, The Mystery of the Missing Soap, is available in five languages — English, Hindi, Marathi, Asomiya and Tamil. As WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the book was written, designed, illustrated, translated in a week’s time. With the closure of the printing presses due to the lockdown, Dharmarajan tdecided to make it available as a free resource for wider dissemination. “It has been widely circulated to more than 5,000 students and teachers who have phones; to about 540 nonprofits in the language belts the e-books are available in. Our teachers are offering workshop on how to use it to anyone who requests for it,” says Dharmarajan. The book comes with practical advice on making homemade soap with easily available natural products. There is also a list of do-s and don’ts about best hygiene practices and an introduction to the coronavirus, of which the SARS-CoV-2 is a variant.
My Hero is You: How Kids can Fight COVID-19
Available for free download on: https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/iasc-reference-group-mental-health-and-psychosocial-support-emergency-settings/my-hero-you
Appropriate for: 6+ years
The immense toll that a pandemic takes on mental health has been emphasised by the World Health Organisation and health practitioners around the world. Especially for children and young adults, for whom this is a first exposure to death and calamity, the disruption caused by COVID-19 is often difficult to make sense of. To explain this anxiety-ridden world to them and to answer questions they might have, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has come up with an illustrated story, My Hero is You, culled together from the experiences of children, parents, teachers, experts and caregivers from 104 countries around the world. It is available in multiple languages, including in Tamil, Arabic, French, Italian, Sinhala and Burmese.
An evocative book, My Hero is You is told through the eyes of Sara, a little girl. When her mother, a scientist, tells her that to get past the crisis, she needs Sara to be a hero, she is perplexed. Sara doesn’t feel like a hero, even if she would like to be one, nor does she know how to go about it. Help comes from in the darkness of the night from unexpected quarters. Ario a fire-spewing dragon, takes Sara on a tour to meet other children, each coping with their own set of problems — stuck at home, away from school and friends; some quarantined with a sick family members or recovering from the COVID-19 themselves; others with little space to socially isolate. Together, through talking about their fears and experiences, they try and find their own superpower — patience, empathy, kindness, and, above all, love — to help them stay afloat.
Coronavirus: A Book for Children
Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts
Nosy Crow/Harper Collins
Available for free download on: https://harpercollins.co.in/coronavirus%E2%80%93a-book-for-children.pdf
Appropriate for: 5+ years
One of the first children’s books to come out on the coronavirus, Coronavirus: A Book for Children, was put together by the indie publishing house, Nosy Crow, and made available for free download at the end of March, soon after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic.
Apart from explaining what a virus is and how one may get infected by the novel coronavirus, this book, published in India by HarperCollins, is particularly good at explaining why social isolation is necessary, even though, sometimes, it’s hard on us to be cooped at home all day. Illustrated by German illustrator Axel Scheffler (of The Gruffalo fame), the book approaches its theme through a scientific lens, acknowledging the emotional upheaval it’s causing but assuring that there is hope at the end of the uncertainty, thanks to the inevitable triumph of medical science over COVID-19.
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