New book helps children to understand COVID-19

By April Murphy

Helping younger children to understand COVID-19 is now a bit easier.  A children’s book, that explains how a virus spreads and simplifies instructions on how to be hygienic during a pandemic, has now been launched.

“Birdie and the Virus” was written by Andrea Baldwin and Anil Tortop from the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, part of Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

The story follows the journey of Birdie and how her friends contract a virus. The publication also depicts Birdie being tested for the virus and then what it needed to do to stay safe.

“Young children feel secure when their world is ordered and predictable. They need that sense of security to explore and learn, grow and develop in healthy ways. Disruption and uncertainty make it hard for families to maintain routines and help children feel that the world makes sense,” Co Author Dr Andrea Baldwin said.

Children’s Health Queensland states on their website that the book “Birdie and the Virus” has been specifically designed to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of babies and young children, their parents, and families, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Birdie and the Virus” is one book in a collection called “Birdie’s Tree”. These books assist children in dealing with natural disasters. The collection includes games, resources, storybooks, and curriculum, all of which are specifically designed for young children. 

“Every child is different. One child may cope quite easily with the pandemic, while another will need reassurance, age-appropriate answers to their questions, and lots of support. Reading a story like ‘Birdie and the Virus’ with a caring adult can help a young child work through the distressing experiences and big feelings of these difficult times” says Dr Baldwin.

You can access the colour flip book or an animated version online at https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/covid-19-birdie-virus/

At the end of the book, you will find the lyrics to a song about how to stay hygienic.  An animated version of the song is also available to listen too on the children’s health website. If you would prefer a hardcopy of the book, you can purchase a copy for $10 plus postage.

Emergingminds.com.au has a printable resource with tips to assist parents with dealing with changes to our lifestyle during Covid19. For example:

To reassure and support babies and toddlers through these changes:

• Try to maintain important daily routines so that you can spend regular time together (e.g. playing, stories, mealtimes).

• Limit having the television on while children are playing or in the room.

• Set up some of your own rituals to avoid being distracted by your phone or other devices when you are playing or spending time with your children.

• Find ways to keep children connected with friends and loved ones that they might be separated from such as video calling, sending photos by phone or creating artwork for them.

Children’s Health Queensland remind parents if they have any concerns about their child’s mental health or emotional wellbeing during COVID-19, to please speak with their GP or local Child and Youth Mental Health Service.