Yes, April 22nd was Earth Day, April 18th was World Heritage Day and March 21st was World Forest Day, it appears that there might actually be an observance for every single day of the year. World Book Day, observed on April 23rd, is particularly important considering the present situation of the coronavirus, which like a good book has travelled to almost every part of the globe. 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.
We are hearing mostly of the widespread deaths caused by the virus, the mental health of adults especially those who have become unemployed, the struggles of parents who have to work from home while overseeing their children’s virtual education, the challenges of frontline workers and stories of businesses shutting down among other negative impacts.
While these are all important, more needs to be done to address the mental health of children who may not fully comprehend the 360° turn their lives took since the onslaught of the coronavirus.
As a mother of two active boys, 9 and 12 going on 21, the first few weeks were rough, trying to engage them while working from home and managing the 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 I will try to introduce during this time, a family book club session, which I am sure I will get some objections from my 12 year old who seems to be averse to reading.
I think I’ll let them start with 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 them and the Author, Mr. Ivey said the book is doing well and he hopes every parent will download it as it seeks to explain the situation in a child friendly manner without the panic the topic often evokes. Meanwhile the Illustrator, Andrew Blake said, “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 a person comes from much of what I learn interacting with both, therefore utilizing my time and talent to raise awareness of what is considered a threat to their wellness is of utmost importance to me.”
Here are some other useful links our children can benefit from to stir up that love for reading during this time. This link: https://stories.audible.com/start-listen is from Amazon, kudos to them for cancelling the subscription of books and audio stories for children and students of all ages. Amazon says ‘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’. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
Here 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, so I hope you will encourage your children to read, share, enjoy and benefit from these e-books: https://www.cxc.org/examinations/cpea/cpea-short-stories/.
Happy World Book Day!