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10 Books to Help Kids and Grown-Ups Navigate the Pandemic

Pandemic kids books
Clockwise from top left: Book covers of "Smiling from Ear to Ear: Wearing Masks While Having Fun," "Paula and the Pandemic," and "If You Can’t Bear Hug, Air Hug." | Miranda Rosbach
Until we get to rip our masks off and hug each other, here are some hopeful and informative books that might help caregivers navigate this time with their children.
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While COVID-19 vaccines have already started being disseminated, young families are still living largely in pandemic mode. Most of us have gotten used to this kind of life, but for little ones, it might still be difficult to get used to wearing masks for long periods of time or even washing their hands the right way. So, until we get to rip our masks off and hug each other, here are some hopeful and informative books that might help caregivers navigate this time with their children.

"A New Day" (Ages 3-12)
By Alex Ryvchin

A family navigates life on the inside. With more time to be together, that means more time for games and snuggles and favorite movies. With the promise of a new day on the horizon, this book ends with a hopeful message and offers gentle reassurance. I especially love that it has a space for journaling thoughts at the back of the book.

"Stop That Virus!" (Ages 0-4)
Written by words & pictures and illustrated by Susana Rumiz

A virus enters the body on the attack, but it is immediately noticed as an intruder. Cells gather and work together to stop the virus! While not specific to any one virus, this paper-engineered book with movable and changing pictures packs a punch that’s perfect for any curious kid.

"If You Can’t Bear Hug, Air Hug" (Ages 0-7)
By Katie Sedmak

Land and sea animals find ways to connect without touching, from sharing air hugs and chuckles to being good listeners or simply watching the same thing simultaneously. This rhyming book so accurately depicts social distancing. Have you received an air hug in the past 10 months? I know I have.

"Lucy’s Mask" (Ages 0-12)
Written by Lisa Sirkis Thompson and illustrated by John Thompson

Lucy’s mother can’t play with her because she’s sewing a new mask for her daughter. A mask? Lucy loves masks. Running to her dress-up bin, Lucy masks her eyes. She finds the appropriate attire to become a pirate, an explorer, a detective and eventually a superhero with a new mask: One that fits over her nose and mouth.

"The World Made a Rainbow" (Ages 3-6)
Written by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Emily Hamilton

Remember the early days of the pandemic when windows begin to fill with tissue paper rainbows? Soon, sidewalks and fences donned similar chalk renditions. It was a way to stay connected with others, even when we couldn’t see each other. Even in the darkest days, this book, rendered with bright hues and joyful text, reminds us to search for hope.

"What are Germs?" (Ages 3-6)
By Katie Daynes

Invisible to the naked eyes, germs live on our skin and in our bathrooms. They are on our shoes and in our mouths. They are all around us. With lift-the-flap tabs, this interactive board book is an excellent way to explain to young children how important proper hand washing is. My toddler reads this one like it’s her job.

Pandemic kid book next to hand soap and faucet
Book cover of "What Are Germs?" | Miranda Rosbach

"Smiling from Ear to Ear: Wearing Masks While Having Fun" (Ages 3-10)
Written and illustrated by Kaitlyn Chu

Animals on the bus and at the grocery store all wear masks. Animals at the doctor’s office or on the slide also wear masks. No matter where they are or who they are with, all the colorful animals in this book still have fun while protecting themselves and their loved ones by wearing masks. This book is great for anyone still adjusting to daily mask-wearing.

"And the People Stayed Home" (Ages 4-8)
Written by Kitty O’Meara and illustrated by Stefano di Cristofaro and Paul Pereda

When people stay home (as so many did in 2020), the hours are filled with reading, listening, playing games and resting. In the stillness, we were allowed to listen to others and ourselves more deeply. With an emphasis on the natural world and healing, this book felt especially poignant for our family over the last year. The audiobook version read by Kate Winslet is also wonderfully done.

"Paula and the Pandemic" (Ages 5-7)
By Dorthea Laurence

Paula lives in a red brick house with a yellow door. She loves playing with her friend Ben, but one day Ben can’t play. Then Paula’s mom tells her that she can’t play with any of her other friends because of something called a pandemic. Paula’s dad begins to work at home, but he can’t play. Perplexed and saddened by the changes in her life, Paula starts to feel hope when her mom gives her a tiny sunflower seed to nourish and care for. This relatable tale gets repeat reads at our home. Also, proceeds of this book go to benefit charities supporting COVID-19 relief.

"Staying Safe with Healthy Habits" (Ages 7-11)
Written by Julie Murray

What is a virus? How does it infect our bodies? Healthy habits like hand washing and eating nutrient-rich foods, getting outside for fresh air and exercise are all part of keeping our bodies healthy. Wearing a mask is another way we can protect others from the virus. With pictures of real children, this nonfiction primer is a great choice for school-aged kids.

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