The best books for kids about COVID-19

Who am I?

I'm an author of books for young readers. These days, there’s nothing more important than having conversations about the Coronavirus disease. It can be hard for grown-ups to start a conversation about Covid with their kids. But they can read a book about the subject and invite the kids to respond to what they heard and saw. My book COVID-19 Helpers was the first place winner of the Emery Global Health Institute’s e-book contest back in May 2020. Through the pandemic, I’ve been reading and talking about the virus with kids from around the world. If you're interested in having me read one of my books to your school, clinic, or your daycare center feel free to get in touch. 

I wrote...

Helping Our World Get Well: Covid Vaccines

By Beth Bacon, Kary Lee (illustrator),

Book cover of Helping Our World Get Well: Covid Vaccines

What is my book about?

After months of wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing, kids can now help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by getting a vaccine. It’s a tiny task that not only gives kids their own protection from the virus, it also helps protect their family, their friends, and their whole community. In straightforward language, this book explains to kids how vaccines will help us rid the world of COVID-19 and how they have a role to play in that mission.

This book helps kids and grown-ups talk about their own experiences, questions, thoughts, and concerns that have arisen during the pandemic. 

The books I picked & why

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Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America's Doctor

By Kate Messner, Alexandra Bye (illustrator),

Book cover of Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America's Doctor

Why this book?

This picture book biography does so many things at once—and does it all with a masterful, lyrical storytelling voice. Of course, the primary thing this book does is tell the story of a real person’s life: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In this story, we learn about his ordinary childhood, his personal interests, and the ways his family inspired and encouraged him. It shows that even people we see on the news were once children, just like the kids reading this book. More than that, this book is a celebration of science and the excitement of scientific discoveries.

It reminds kids (and grown-ups) that science is a creative endeavour. So once the urgency of learning about the COVID virus wanes, this book will be still valuable as a primer on how scientists do their work. Additionally, though the narrative part of the story doesn’t get too deep into the medical and scientific elements of the coronavirus, at the end of the book you will find informational pages about vaccines and the pursuit of science. Even though he’s known these days for his work with COVID, Fauci is first and foremost a scientist. And author Kate Messner is a master at writing picture book biographies. What a great combination!

Do Not Lick This Book

By Idan Ben-Barak, Julian Frost (illustrator),

Book cover of Do Not Lick This Book

Why this book?

I love simple graphical picture books. I love books with a sense of humor. I love books that are interactive, talk directly to the audience, and get kids to physically act out things as they’re being read to. This story has so many elements that I love…I wish I wrote it! The story explains that microbes are everywhere and invites the reader to touch the book and pick up a tiny microbe that is lounging in the paper. Then it invites the reader to touch one of their teeth. This transfers the microbe into their mouth. The book goes on to prompt the reader to discover the microbes in their clothes and their belly buttons! Yuck, right? Well, that kind of yuck is an effective way of demonstrating the point that after you touch stuff, it’s a good idea to wash your hands.

What Is the Coronavirus Disease Covid-19?

By Michael Burgan, Who HQ, Manuel Gutierrez (illustrator)

Book cover of What Is the Coronavirus Disease Covid-19?

Why this book?

This book is for older children. I would offer it to strong readers in grades 4 through 6. Now that I think about it, it would probably be a really informative read for grown-ups… it doesn’t take long to get through the whole book, and the straightforward tone leaves little room for emotions or biases. It’s a refreshing presentation of the facts (though the content, of course, is not “refreshing”). This book opens with a vignette about the lockdown in March 2020 and then goes into a factual description of viruses in general and the coronavirus in particular. It then talks about the early spread of this new disease, the search for treatments, and even the overall economic and governmental impacts that stemmed from the whole phenomenon.

At the end of this book, there are a couple of interesting additions. You will find two timelines: A timeline of the coronavirus disease, and a timeline of the “world” that includes events such as the World Wars and the onset of the HIV virus. I assume this “world” timeline is included to provide background for young kids who may not yet have an established historical context. This book also includes a lengthy bibliography, which includes websites. If you have the electronic version of this book, you can click on the embedded web addresses and go directly to those sites for further reading. 

Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs

By Julie Gassman, Andy Elkerton (illustrator),

Book cover of Do Not Let Your Dragon Spread Germs

Why this book?

This book encourages little ones to read along with a recurring refrain, “Don’t let your dragon spread germs!” The premise of this book is that children have to teach their pet dragons hygiene. In using this logic, the story puts the young characters in the book in the position of the teacher-caregivers. The illustrator, Andy Elkerton, did a great job with the dragons. Each dragon has its own personality and the illustrations are full of energy and motion. Those colorful, dynamic dragons are fun for kids to look at while a grown-up reads the text. 

We Wear Masks

By Marla Lesage,

Book cover of We Wear Masks

Why this book?

The whimsical illustrations in this book caught my attention and captured my heart. The colors in this book are lovely pastels and the text is simple so there’s lots of room to admire the images. I am partial to picture books that are simple and emotional. As we continue on for so many months making the extra effort to wear masks in our daily lives, there’s something heartening in seeing pictures of other people happily wearing masks on the pages of this book. The text is written in sets of rhyming pairs, which are sometimes a stretch. I appreciate that this book for young readers shows a diverse group of people all merrily going about their tasks while wearing protective face masks. 

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