Keep the kids entertained and educated with the best free picture books and e-books that have come as a result of the global pandemic.
Our top five essentials also include cheap books that come with fun, practical advice on hygiene that have become more relevant than ever in these strange and unprecedented times.
Worry not, for these aren't dull and dreary reads, instead being lively literature that comes with great art for the kids to pore over.
We start with a book by an illustrator you'll already know and will love introducing to the little ones. We're talking about Jon Burgerman, of course, who's been writing for children quite some time now.
1. Everybody Worries by Jon Burgerman
Internationally acclaimed artist, author and illustrator Jon Burgerman has created a free e-picture book - Everybody Worries - to support parents and carers whose children are feeling worried or anxious about coronavirus and the changes it’s brought to their lives.
Jon wrote the book to encourage parents and children to talk about their worries and the book has even been endorsed by clinical psychologists specialising in anxiety in young children.
You could also say it's a kind of spiritual sequel to his most recent book Everybody Has a Body, which we recently interviewed Jon about in New York.
2. Coronavirus: A Book for Children by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
Axel Scheffler of The Gruffalo fame has illustrated a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. Published by Nosy Crow, and written by staff within the company, the book has had expert input: Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the company also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist.
The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds:
• What is the coronavirus?
• How do you catch the coronavirus?
• What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
• Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
• Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
• Why are some places we normally go to closed?
• What can I do to help?
• What’s going to happen next?
Nosy Crow want to make sure that this book is accessible to every child and family and so the book is offered totally free of charge to anyone who wants to read it. However, they have suggested, at the back of the book, that families might make a donation to help our health service if they find the book useful: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/
3. Be a Coronavirus Fighter! by Songju Ma Daemicke & Helen H. Wu
What is coronavirus? Why can’t I go outside and play with my friends? What should I do? This informative picture book explains the current virus situation in simple terms and urges children to help fight it.
We love Helen H. Wu's watercolour illustrations with this one, both cheery and informative.
4. My Hero is You by Helen Patuck
This book was a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG). The project was supported by global, regional and country based experts from Member Agencies of the IASC MHPSS RG, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries.
A global survey was distributed in Arabic, English, Italian, French and Spanish to assess children’s mental health and psycho-social needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. A framework of topics to be addressed through the story was developed using the survey results. The book was shared through storytelling to children in several countries affected by COVID-19. Feedback from children, parents and caregivers was then used to review and update the story.
5. I Don't Want to Wash My Hands! by Tony Ross
This 2001 book has seen a recent surge in popularity, teaching the kids the basics of hand-washing via the story of Tony's Little Princess heroine.
You might recognise Tony Ross's illustrations from those book blockbusters written by David Walliams.