As we get closer to the start of school, I keep seeing Instagram posts full of children’s books on the Coronavirus. This week, a fellow educator shared with me a list of some of these books. She noticed that many of them are free to read through Kindle Unlimited, and she knows that I utilize this service. One afternoon, I decided to download a handful of these books (one that I paid for) to read and think about. This is the Instagram post that I shared after my reading.
As you can see in this post, I have some concerns with children’s books on the Coronavirus.
- How much are we informing students versus stressing them out?
- When the message in the book talks about the importance of “staying at home” and “not going to school,” how will kids feel when they are reading and discussing this book AT school?
- While a superhero connection might intrigue the many children that love superheroes, is this an interest that we want to extend? How do we address the dysregulating connections with this interest (i.e., the running, screaming, fighting, and fake flying that always seems to follow a superhero discussion), especially when children might now, more than ever before, need to stay in a more contained area?
I know that books can be incredibly informative. I also know that there are many books that mimic reality, and detailed pictures and simple text, can support children that are learning new things. This may include, learning how to respond to the Coronavirus and keeping safe.
Then this morning, I saw an Instagram story from Mads.Reading: a book account that I follow. I asked her if I could share this story here.
Look at the number of adults that are not interested in reading COVID books. Now think about our kids: do we know for sure that learning more about the Coronavirus is what they want?
I’m not suggesting that we ignore our COVID-19 reality and don’t use books to maybe help address some new health protocols, such as handwashing. Some of our students might even need or want more information than this. I keep coming back to my reply on the children’s book Instagram post.’
In class, we regularly observe and respond to what students want/need. We try to personalize whenever possible. One child, or even a group of children, might benefit from another story on the Coronavirus, and others might not. We also try to connect with parents. What has been discussed at home, and what do they think might be beneficial for their child(ren)?
There’s no one right answer here, which is maybe why I wanted to blog so much on this topic. My hope is that Coronavirus inquiries don’t become standard fair in every classroom around the world. Kids will talk. COVID-19 is part of their reality. Just look at this student work as an example of that.
But maybe for many children, returning to school also means a chance to think about, inquire, and discuss topics beyond COVID-19. Let’s not assume what’s best for kids. Our assumptions and their reality might not be the same. What do you think? How are you planning on addressing the Coronavirus with your students? How much might be too much? No matter what your final decision may be, there are certainly lots of books available for us to use, and having access to resources when needed, can always be beneficial.