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Keeping children safe from covid-19

These picture books offer tips to the young to stay safe during the pandemic

A page from Rajiv Eipe’s illustration of Ammachi and Sooraj. Courtesy Pratham Books
A page from Rajiv Eipe’s illustration of Ammachi and Sooraj. Courtesy Pratham Books

Although children around the world are so far less severely affected by covid-19, their lives are being upset by the virus in other ways. Millions of school-goers have suddenly been forced to reckon with virtual classrooms. Social distancing norms demand that they stay home, away from friends, loved ones, playgrounds. Their daily regimen is made tougher by injunctions to wash hands, sneeze and cough into tissues or elbows, and rebukes for touching the face. As parental patience wears thin and children are at their wits’ end, these four books, published speedily in the last few days and available to download for free, may keep children and their caregivers usefully occupied and entertained.

The Novel Coronavirus—We Can Stay Safe (Pratham Books): Written and illustrated by various authors and graphic artists, this delightful picture book was produced in 10 days. Some of the most beloved characters from tales published on StoryWeaver—a multilingual platform that ensures picture books for children of all ages are freely accessible—appear here to talk about hand-washing, social isolation, and other precautions. Ammachi, the adorable grandmother created by Rajiv Eipe, has a word of advice for little Sooraj (involving a radio that ensures their hands are properly washed), while Deepa Balsavar’s Nani champions the idea of staying home.

Available in five Indian languages on

Coronavirus—A Book For Children (Nosy Crow): Illustrated by Axel Scheffler, this elegantly designed book is distributed by HarperCollins in India. Written with the advice of Graham Medley, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, two teachers, and a child psychologist, it gives a detailed introduction to the novel coronavirus. From explaining what a virus is to the modes of transmission to how a vaccine can help fix the problem—this is an excellent handbook for caregivers struggling to give meaningful answers to the questions their wards are hurling at them 24x7.

Available on

The Mystery Of The Missing Soap (Katha): Written by Geeta Dharmarajan, with art by Suddhasattwa Basu and Charbak Dipta, this is a hygiene manual-cum-DIY safety kit-cum-adventure story. The land of Dakshinpur, ruled by the kind sarpanch (leader) Jayant, is in dire straits as the residents have run out of soap. It is part of a conspiracy hatched by the evil GermaAsura, who wants his Coronavirus Army to attack Dakshinpur. Their goal is to establish the reign of Tobakchi, the wicked Asura, over the people. Can the supergirls of Dakshinpur come to the rescue and create soaps at home?

Visit to know the answer

My Hero Is You—How Kids Can Fight COVID-19! (WHO et al): A global effort by over 50 humanitarian organizations (from the World Health Organization to the UN Children’s Fund to Save the Children), this heartwarming project is based on a survey of 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers. It tells the story of the pandemic through a fairy tale aimed at children between the ages of 6-11, written and illustrated by Helen Patuck. Told through the point of view of a girl called Sara, the story explains the measures needed to control covid-19 but goes beyond, engaging with the psychological costs of the pandemic on children. There is also a gentle dragon called Ario who may be a comforting presence for readers.

Available on

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