Making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for adults, so imagine what it’s like for children to understand what’s going on.
That’s what two Long Islanders with three children of their own have done — they’ve imagined the questions about the science of it all and put the answers in a free e-book for ages 4 to 11. The book, “Kelly Stays Home: The Science of the Coronavirus," is written by Port Washington residents Dr. Lauren Block, an associate professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Hempstead, and her husband, Adam, an assistant professor of public health at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. It received more than 7,000 downloads in the first week (at kellystayshome.com) and will also soon be available in a softcover and Kindle book on Amazon. The couple’s children are twins Elise and Brandon, 7, and Jordan, 5.
The Blocks say their goal in writing the book was to make it easier for families to talk about the pandemic with the help of simplified explanations for frequently-asked questions, while also making it appealing for kids with colorful illustrations and reinforcing in parents the importance of things like hand-washing and cleaning surfaces. They say it can also be of aid to families in which a member is a first responder and their children are concerned about their loved one’s well-being as they fight the virus from the front lines.
“We hope that the explanations and illustrations bring alive concepts like viral transmission, basic epidemiology, and social distancing,” says Lauren, 39.
Adam, 42, said that for their children, the virus concerns really hit home.
“Our kids asked us why they needed to stay home and couldn't see their extended family including their grandparents in person,” Adam explains. “They asked when they'd get to return to school and see their friends. They asked what a virus was and why we can't see the virus. They asked how the virus makes people sick and if I'd get sick taking care of sick patients in my office or in the COVID-19 testing center where I was working.”
Lauren adds their children even became “our little focus group” when testing the impact of the book on young people.
“The book enabled them to learn concepts we didn't learn until graduate school like herd immunity and how vaccines work,” Lauren says of her children. “They were thrilled to see the book come alive with illustrations.” She said the youngest, Jordan, could not understand much of the language of the original version of the book, for kids age 7-11, which gave the Blocks the idea to create a "Kelly Stays Home," junior version for kids age 4-6 with the same pictures and themes, but easier language.
The Blocks say they hope the book can become a family affair for everyone.
“We hope the book will reassure kids of first responders and health care workers who may be anxious seeing their family members go to work to help sick people in our community,” Lauren Block says. “We hope parents and kids will learn how simple techniques such as proper hand-washing and cleaning surfaces can keep everyone safe, and how families can help advocate for diagnosis, treatment and help the less fortunate during the pandemic.”
The Kindle and softcover versions are slated for release in June with the expected price to be $1.99 and $8.99, respectively.