Friday 4 December, 2020

Books are of particular value to children during COVID-19

By Karetta Crooks Charles

Thursday was World Book Day!

Yes, I know. March 21 was World Forest Day, April 18 was World Heritage Day and April 22 was Earth Day, ... It appears that there might actually be an observance for every single day of the year. But come to think of it, with the novel coronavirus, does anyone even know what date it is anymore?

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World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to encourage reading, publishing, and copyright. The first observance was celebrated on April 23, 1995.

This year, World Book Day is of particular importance considering that coronavirus has confined most of us to our homes... and like a good book, the virus has travelled to almost every part of the globe.

Books can also play a significant role in addressing the mental health of children who may not fully comprehend the polar turn that their lives took since the onslaught of COVID-19.

As a mother of two active boys, 9 and 12 (both going on 21), the first few weeks were rough, trying to engage them while working from home and managing my house. But after a while it became clear that I needed to check in with them, now more than ever, to ensure that they were ‘OK’. We started playing badminton, going for family walks, eating more together and being more consistent with our daily devotions. There is one more thing that I have tried to introduce during this time-- a family book club.

If you are intrigued at the possibility of cultivating a love for reading in your children while engaging in a heartfelt discussion about their emotions surrounding COVID-19, I recommend a children’s book called Coronavirus: Get Outta Here, written by Peter Ivey and illustrated by Andrew Blake, best friends for over 20 years from Jamaica. Donations can be made to their timely book project at the link below as some of the proceeds will go towards the fight against the virus: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/coronavirusgetouttahere or get your free copy at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.muckrack.com/portfolio/items/9204254/coronavirusgetouttahere.pdf.

I reached out to the author, Peter Ivey, who also happens to be a journalist and entrepreneur. Mr Ivey explained that his book, which has received rave reviews from UNICEF, the Jamaica Gleaner, TV Jamaica and Loop Jamaica, among others, addresses the pandemic in a child-friendly manner without the panic the topic often evokes. 

“I love to be of help and value to others especially children and the elderly, as one is the future and one represents where we are coming from and my development as an artist comes from much of what I have learned interacting with both. Utilizing my time and talent to raise awareness around something that is considered a threat to their wellbeing is of utmost importance to me,” said illustrator, Andrew Blake.

Another useful literary source that children can benefit from, to stir up a love for reading during this time is audible.com (https://stories.audible.com/start-listen). Kudos to parent company, Amazon, for cancelling the subscription fee for audio stories for children and students during this time. Amazon says that "as long as schools are closed, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids." 

Another amazing resource is a collection of 46 illustrated short stories written by children from the Caribbean, for the CXC CPEA Short Story Competitions held over the past few years. My 9-year-old has already read a few and provided positive feedback. Encourage your children to read, share, enjoy and benefit from e-books at the following link: https://www.cxc.org/examinations/cpea/cpea-short-stories/.

Happy World Book Day!

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