20 Children’s Books to Help Kids Cope with the Coronavirus Pandemic
This is a repost of our piece appearing in Mother.ly, by permission.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned our worlds upside down, kids included.
Kids are coping the best they know how with sheltering at home and staying put way more than usual, and let’s be honest, they’re starting to reach their threshold. They are missing their friends and possibly their beloved grandparents and caregivers. They are dealing with difficult transitions to virtual learning or homeschooling. It’s a lot to deal with as a child.
Our kids also feel the stress at home as parents deal with the uncertainty, juggle work while also being the primary caregivers, or in some cases go through losing a job. Children may also have had to battle the illness, or witness someone in their family do so.
When it comes down to it, one of the best things you can do for a child is to read to them. Books are an excellent tool to lean on in uncertain times. Our team of teachers and librarians at Best Kids’ Books has hand-picked a selection of books to read to kids to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
At this age, babies and toddlers can still pick up on stress and anxiety in the home. For these very little ones, books can be used to create a calm atmosphere and a feeling of security, as well as reinforce a parent’s love.
The Wonder That Is You
This book is a celebration of motherhood and of the birth (or arrival) of each and every precious child. The lyrical prose is lilting and tender, the illustrations lovely and soothing. The combination creates a warm, cozy feeling for both mama and babe.
Time for Bed
Like a well-known lullaby, this book slowly rocks us into a sweet slumber. Beloved by several generations, you can’t go wrong with this selection by the prolific and popular Australian Mem Fox. We love a number of her other works, especially Koala Lou, which offers loving reassurance for young children.
Affection and physical touch from loving parents can comfort your young one like nothing else. This cute, simple board book with repeating text shows all the many ways daddy animals cuddle their little ones. The reading of this book to your baby or toddler can encourage snuggling and cuddling and put you both at ease.
On the Night You Were Born
Nancy Tillman’s sweet and sentimental text centers on the theme that every child is unique and special. This well-loved book creates a calm and reassuring atmosphere to relax into before naptime or bedtime.
These books offer an introduction to helping kids cope. This age is primed for tantrums and physically lashing out as they struggle to express why they feel the way they do. These selections will help start conversations with your little ones on change, loneliness, sickness, fear, kindness and compassion.
Things That Go Away
Recently published, this book was created by Beatrice Alemagna, an Italian artist who has captured our hearts with her gorgeous illustrations. Her message is just as powerful–that all things are temporary in one way or another, except the love a parent has for their child. A fantastic book that has appeared at just the right time (featuring translucent pages kids can turn to move the item that is changing away), it is simple enough for the very young but engaging for older kids, too.
Lost and Found
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, this is a reflection on the sadness that comes from loneliness and the comfort that comes from togetherness. When a boy thinks a little lonely penguin is actually a little lost penguin, he returns the penguin to where he thinks he may have come from–the South Pole! When he realizes his mistake, he hurries to rescue his new friend.
You Hold Me Up
This simple but profound book, made a standout by its touching and unique illustrations depicting modern Native peoples, shows all the ways that we “hold each other up.” Its beautiful theme–that as family, friends and community members, we rely on each other’s kindness and compassion–is especially appropriate during these times of emotional need.
Llama Llama Home with Mama
“Achy fever, stuffy head, llama llama back to bed!” We follow the ever-popular little Llama in this story as he comes down with a fever, sore throat and more. Boredom and discomfort are the dish of the day, made even worse when Mama Llama catches it too. A good selection to read with young ones when conversation of illness and viruses are on the agenda.
This selection, which has been read countless times, voices a real and universal fear for children. The baby owls miss their mommy and are afraid she won’t come back to the nest. Use this book to open up conversation with your little one on what else they might be afraid of during this time of pandemic–fears that you may have no idea of. Once these fears are out in the world, they will tend to shrink in size.
We strive to help kids at this age voice their feelings and process their complicated emotions. Reach for the books that focus on issues brought into stark relief by the pandemic, such as missing our relatives, facing anxiety and recognizing unhealthy aspects of fear.
Yoko’s Paper Cranes
This tender story, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, tells of the love between Yoko (who has moved to America) and her grandparents in Japan. Yoko’s longing for her beloved Obaasan and Ojiisan will resonate with many children today who are missing time spent with grandparents. It’s a sweet one.
There Might Be Lobsters
Sukie, a little dog, is so overwhelmed by worries that they turn into a paralyzing anxiety that keeps her from enjoying life–an appropriate character for this uncertain time when there is so much in our environment to make children (and adults!) anxious. Find out what prompts Sukie to overcome her fears and realize that a trip to the beach isn’t as scary as she once thought.
My Magic Breath
Especially useful in our current environment, this selection walks children through the exercise of mindful breathing. Great to read to kids at the end of the day, when their thoughts may be racing and preventing them from relaxing. Also good to use to carve out a calm moment anytime kids are stuck within negative feelings.
If I Had a Little Dream
The rhyming, poetic text of this lovely selection takes us into another world, decorated by enchanting illustrations and vibrant color. The pages of this book serve as an escape from the everyday and give us an opportunity to dream and let our minds wander. It feels like a secret hiding place — our own little private island where safety and security are a given.
Me and My Fear
Fear takes the form of an invisible friend that accompanies the main character wherever she goes. The author recognizes fear as a necessary companion to help us stay safe from danger, while showing what can happen when we let our fear rule our lives. Use it as a conversation starter about what fears your child is holding onto during this time and how much fear is healthy as we live our everyday lives.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
A classic tale of irritation and frustration, detailing a day that starts off on the wrong foot and never seems to go right. Kids and parents alike can relate, given routines turned upside down and our current climate of uncertainty. We can see ourselves in Alexander. He brings a little levity to the universal feeling of irritation and helps us laugh–at both him and ourselves.
Contrary to popular belief, older kids are not too old for picture books. They’re long enough to elicit emotion and get this age group thinking, but short enough to fit into busy schedules. The illustrations can help kids feel like kids again and give them respite as they’re stretching their wings into the tween world.
Whimsy’s Heavy Things
The simple text here may lead readers to believe this pick is geared toward ages 4 to 7, but this concept is useful to introduce at any age. Whimsy is burdened by “heavy things,” just like many of us in our current times when heavy things wait around every corner. Watch Whimsy learn that if she breaks up her heavy things and makes them useful, they are useful to her.
Manjhi Moves a Mountain
Set in India and based on a true story. Manjhi dedicates years to chiseling a passageway through a mountain to connect his village to the village on the other side, which has access to hospitals, food and work. This inspiring tale of sacrifice and perseverance, it demonstrates for children what can be accomplished by an ordinary person dedicated to helping others in need.
Breathe Like a Bear
This book is full of practical exercises to teach children how to use guided visualizations to achieve mindful breathing. With names like “candle breath” and “flower breath,” favorites can be memorized and used at any time to calm their busy minds and relieve tension.
The Old Woman Who Named Things
Written by the talented Cynthia Rylant, this gorgeously illustrated book is a tearjerker, plain and simple. Having outlived all her friends, the old woman in this story names her car, bed and house, but refuses to name the shy, brown dog who visits her every day. Her loneliness is palpable, but her attachment to her new friend proves heartwarming. Read with older children who are struggling with loneliness themselves.
The Red Bicycle
Based on a true story, this book may inspire children to contribute to the lives of others during times of hardship. It tells of a boy who donates his beloved red bike to a used bicycle collection drive. The bike is sent to Africa, where it serves as transportation for numerous others. This selection gets kids thinking globally and gives them perspective on how one act of kindness can have an impressive and lasting ripple effect.
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