As new books for summer begin to roll into my library, I’m starting to see more and more picture books that specifically address the COVID-19 pandemic, and I wanted to highlight a few for Story Warren readers. An article I read in graduate school about the importance of children’s books really stuck with me—it emphasized the importance of content for children that deals with their own lived experiences. If kids are living through it or seeing it, there should be a book about it. I think that’s an idea with some merit, especially when it comes to big life events that children might find difficult to process….like a global pandemic, for instance. If you find that the kids in your life are asking more questions about the pandemic or having difficulty with things in many areas of life shifting back to pre-pandemic norms, it might be helpful to pick up one of these and talk through some of the big feelings that we’re all having about this unprecedented time in history.
Alone Together by Julia Seal – The subtitle of this one is “a tale of friendship and hope,” and aside from the last page spread you might not know it was about the pandemic at all. Two kids stuck at home find ways to be creative and make each other laugh by communicating out their windows. A good one for any kid who is feeling lonely or isolated.
Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham – This beautifully illustrated book focuses on the contrasts that families around the world experienced during COVID. Many spreads are a montage of both happy and sad things; siblings playing games together paired with a couple crying, a kid tired of looking at his screen matched with a family cooking dinner together. I like that, as I’m sure we all experienced both good and bad moments during this season. One spread with several interior hospital scenes does include small images of people in hospital beds with tubes, etc., and might be distressing to sensitive readers, so use your best judgment there.
Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca – You might remember the days early in the pandemic when people in cities would open their windows every night and make noise for several minutes, in a show of support for essential workers. This story highlights those workers—the delivery people, sanitation workers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and postal workers—who literally kept things moving, with two wheels or on rails, in New York City during the pandemic. Kids who are into cars and trucks will love the array of different vehicles highlighted here, from delivery bike to fire truck. Although it is specifically set in New York and all the scenes are of urban streets and neighborhoods, I think this one holds appeal for kids in suburban or rural areas, too.
I’ve found that even books not specifically about the pandemic have a different resonance in this time; books about the beauty of nature, or appreciating friends or good health seem to hit a little deeper. (Go check out this great review of Scott James’ God Cares for Me: Helping Children Trust God When They’re Sick if you haven’t seen it already!) Has your family found any books to be extra helpful or special during the pandemic? I’d love to hear about them if so! Please do share in the comments. My prayer for all of us is that as we reflect back on this season through stories or conversations, we see the Lord’s comfort and provision in new ways that we might have missed a year ago.
Featured image from Outside, Inside courtesy of publisher’s website.