Over the weekend, public health officials announced cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington state, New York and Florida; a grand total of 43 in the United States as of Monday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they have continually coined the outbreak as an “epidemic” rather than a “pandemic” to try to “avoid unnecessary panic,” The New York Times reported. But with cases popping up more frequently, children could be worried about their friends and family.
And NPR editor Malaka Gharib decided to alleviate that. Gharib shared with Romper how her comic — which is based on a radio story by NPR education reporter Cory Turner, where they spoke with health experts about what kids would like to know about the outbreak — was designed with kids in mind.
“I learned a lot about how adults should break down potentially scary information to children from the three professionals who we spoke to,” she says.
“The most important thing I learned was to reassure the child that they are safe and give the child a sense of agency, a sense of control over their situation — that they can do some simple things to protect themselves and the people who they love.”
And while many news sources currently covering the epidemic, Gharib felt there wasn’t much out there that spoke to younger readers.
Exploring the New Coronavirus: A Comic Just for Kids: Click Right Through the Instagram Gallery Below to Read It
“There was a lot of information for adults on the web but not much for kids,” she shared with Romper. “We wanted to speak directly to children, ages 8-12.”
There is “no evidence that children are more susceptible” to COVID according to the CDC but that doesn’t mean children won’t be confused and concerned about what it all means.
Gharib uses simple explanations and animated illustrations to explain how children should ask questions about anything they don’t understand, trust the professionals to protect them and their loved ones, as well as remember to wash their hands often.
Gharib says the best way to use this tool with your own child is to “print it out, fold it and read the mini zine together.”
“It’s a great format that they can do on their own — now they can make a mini-book about anything they’d like,” she says. “Just have mom and dad photocopy it and they can give their little magazines to their friends, too.”
The CDC recommends washing your hands with warm, soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds at a time. And if you are a parent of small kiddos, try singing the following songs to ensure your little one is washing their hands properly: Mary Had a Little Lamb, If You’re Happy And You Know It, Frére Jacques, Happy Birthday or Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
Not so scary after all, huh?
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