February 9, 2023

The children aged zero to 14 make up 26 percent of the world’s population, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

This fourth of the world population that don’t understand, or know the least reasons why they need to stay indoors and have to stay away from people are the most vulnerable to depression, according to psychologists.

On April 16, 2020, Johnny Wood of weforum.org said, “Bibliotherapist Ella Berthoud suggests reading can be a good way to adapt to living under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.” Berthoud has listed six books for children. UNICEF came out with an online book also in April, “My Hero is You,” which was shaped by more than “1,700 children, parents, caregivers, and teachers from around the world who took the time to share how they are coping with the impact of COVID-19.”

On April 26, 2020, Lo Carpiso, a high school student, wrote about “UPLB free-to-download children’s e-books teach importance of social distancing, face masks.”

Carpiso wrote about two e-books released in March by the Department of Human and Family Development Studies (DHFDS) of the UP Los Baños College of Human Ecology (UPLB-CHE). These are stories that help parents explain the wearing of masks, one-meter distance, hand washing, and the reasons for staying indoors for the moment.

Wood says, “Adapting to change can be difficult, especially for children living through uncertain times like the Covid-19 pandemic. But being introduced to the right book at the right time can calm fears and help kids adjust to a new set of circumstances.” Here are six great reads suggested by Berthoud“to help kids overcome the tedium, insecurity and emotional frustration of life under lockdown.”

The Bog Baby is a magical story by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Gwen Millward about two small naughty sisters who secretly go fishing at the magic pond and find a bog baby. It is small and blue with wings like a dragon and the girls decide to make him their secret when they bring him home. But the bog baby is a wild thing and when he is about to die, the girls decide to confess to their mother about the trip to the magic pond. The mother confesses that she also went to the magic pond and found a baby bog and helps them return the baby bog to the lake. Berthoud says that this is a story about believing in magic but also about believing in parents who know what to do in times of crisis.

Harry and the Wrinklies by Alan Temperley is about Harry, an orphan, who is sent to live with his elderly aunts in remote Lagg Hall. Life there is exciting as he chases his two eccentric aunts on an adventure “filled with fast cars, cat burglars and plenty of cake”. The two women “recruit their nephew to help them deal with a nosey neighbor who begins snooping around the hall and could spell trouble.” This story helps kids realize that grandparents and elderly people have a story to tell.

The Moomin Books series by Tove Janson “spans several age groups and includes picture books for young readers along with stories for older kids. Set in Moominland – a beautiful happy land, isolated from the rest of the world – the Moomins go on a series of adventures that, although packed with excitement and drama, always end happily. “One story with particular parallels to the current situation is called Comet in Moominland. Here we see Moomin and his friend fearing the arrival of something terrible, which could spell the end of their world. When the comet does arrive, there is no crash and their fears are misplaced.” These adventures are a great way to reassure kids about an impending threat and allay their fears, according to Wood.

Jean Craighead George’s “My Side of the Mountain” is about Sam Gribley who waves goodbye to his family in a cramped New York apartment and heads off to a new and very different life in the wilderness. It’s a survival tale of a boy where he learns an important lesson about being able to adapt to new situations. “The story is also a great antidote to being cooped up inside, offering an opportunity for bookworms to explore the wild expanse of nature in their mind’s eye,” concludes Wood.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit is about Winnie Foster who must decide if she wants to become immortal like her family when she discovers a spring whose waters grant immortality. Members of the Tuck family who drank from the spring, tell Winnie of their experiences watching life go by and never growing older. “This clever, funny and wise book is beautifully written and deals with the idea of mortality in a thought-provoking way, which could help kids come to terms with the fear of death or the thought of losing elderly relatives,” says Wood.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty is a story about the power of friendship from afar between Elizabeth in Australia and penpal Celia. It reinforces the idea that writing letters, or their digital equivalent, can be as meaningful and rewarding as seeing friends every day. “So, the next time one of the kids says they are bored or shows signs of lockdown anxiety, take them on a book journey to exercise their imagination,” concludes bibliotherapist Berthoud.

My Hero is You. This book was a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC-MHPSS-RG). The project was supported by global, regional and country based experts from Member Agencies of the IASC-MHPSS-RG, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries.

This is a story about Sara whose mum is a hero as a scientist and a mother during COVID 19. Sara is a hero, according to her mother but doesn’t feel like a hero. Ario, a flying animal from Sara’s heart that has wings of a dragon and one horn, helps Sara spread the news to other children of the world so that she can be a hero. She meets Salem from the desert, Sasha whose father recovered from the coronavirus, Leila from a cool country, and Kim who is himself a survivor of the coronavirus along the way and learns how they are superheroes in their own land. As superheroes they give news and information about how everyone can help stop Covid-19 from spreading.  Ario drops them off again in their places to continue being heroes. Sara returns home and tells her mother that everyone can be a hero if they just stay put and wait until it is safe to go out again.

Ang Mga Maskara ni Miko, Kwentong Pambata ukol sa Covid-19, written by Kate del Rosario and illustrated by Rachelle Ann Fabula talks about Miko’s curiosity about the kinds of masks. He asks the difference between the masks that he wears and the masks people are wearing on the streets. Miko realizes that the purpose of the mask covering the nose and mouth is to arrest the spread of the coronavirus. He observes how his family makes the masks in the end.

Isang Metro, Kwentong Pambata ukol sa Covid-19, written by Kate del Rosario and illustrated by Dandin Espina is about Ella asking her mother Aling Marie why people had to stand one meter apart and how to measure one meter. The story teaches a child how to measure one meter through objects and things found inside the house. In the end, she learns the importance of keeping the distance and is satisfied playing the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors” with a friend through the open window.

There are nine suggested books here, seven in English and two in Filipino, for everyone’s reading pleasure. This is the best time for parents to engage in story telling and the best time for children to travel without leaving their chair or bed.