Books in uncertain times

During times of uncertainty, feeling worried or anxious is natural. For young children, who are less resilient than adults and will have fewer coping strategies, these concerns may cause an increase in stress resulting in disturbed sleep, poor appetite and tearfulness. Publishers have been quick to produce e-books to help explain coronavirus and the steps people are taking to stay healthy in a safe, clear and instructive format to reassure children. 

Andersen Press have released a free eBook, created by author Sally Nicholls and illustrator Viviane Schwarz; Staying Home is available to everyone now as a download from the Andersen Press website as part of their continued effort to entertain and occupy children and their parents during lockdown: 

In Staying Home a family of energetic raccoons are going through a day in lockdown, no school, nursery or work – and explaining to the youngest members of the family how they’re doing their part to save lives just by staying at home! Charlie Sheppard, Publishing Director and Sally’s editor at Andersen Press said of the collaboration, ”We love Sally’s books, and are proud to work with her on her fiction and picture book titles – when she suggested this we leapt at the chance to do something that might help stave off boredom for families out there in the middle of lockdown. The chance to also work with Viviane made the book irresistible. We hope through our channels we can share the experience of Staying Home with young families everywhere.”

Author Sally Nicholls has said of the project, “Like many authors, I've been finding it hard to concentrate on writing projects. My husband and I are at home at the moment with two children aged four and two, and I wanted to write something which reflected their new lives. The day-in-the-life format is a very familiar one in picture books. Like most stories for young children, this one is somewhat idealised - there's no sense that the family are worried about money and the parents are remarkably patient. But it does contain more screen time and fighting than you'll find in most examples of the genre. I love Viviane's warm, energetic raccoon family. They're making the absolute best of a difficult situation, and they're doing it with affection and good humour. I can only hope I'm managing half as well!”

Illustrator Viviane Schwarz added, “I was busy working on a book that I am writing myself - a book about feelings and worries, and I was feeling rather worried and stuck myself, seeing the trouble to come. So when Sally mentioned that she felt the need to write a book about what family life might be like right now, I said I would illustrate it, and as fast as I could. We considered making it a cosy bear family, but then decided that the family would be raccoons instead because we both like them. Also, it’s quite easy for bears to hibernate, they’re used to it. Raccoons are a lot more lively! - After a day of scribbling I suddenly realised that in German a raccoon is called “Waschbär”, a wash-bear, because they wash their food. I watched a lot of videos of them splashing around in the water, and it helped with the bathroom scenes. Wash your hands like raccoons, stay in and be kind to one another.

Other resources that can be used with young children to talk about staying at home and keeping healthy include: 

Coronavirus: A Book For Children written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, and published by Nosy Crow. This is a non-fiction book that explains clearly and succinctly what coronavirus is, what happens if you catch it, and how we can all help stay safe and healthy.

Article by Barbara Band
School Library Consultant

For adults, the NHS has some advice regarding how to help your child if they are anxious, the British Psychological Society has published some tips on how to talk to children about illness and Young Minds, a mental health charity, has some guidance on how to support your child’s mental health during the pandemic.