As adults, COVID-19 is frightening, but for children experiencing lockdown and parental and familial stress, it can be particularly worrying trying to make sense of this new ‘normal’. Having faced the challenge of writing for children with physical and mental health conditions, I have huge respect for anyone who can make materials accurate, meaningful and engaging. Even more so when the virus is an invisible ‘monster’ we are still learning about. So, it’s been encouraging to see the groundswell of talent in charities taking on this challenge worldwide.


Not-for-profit organisation Worldreader has in ten years brought free ebooks to schools, libraries and homes worldwide, reaching more than 13 million readers. BookSmart, its new app, recently hit the headlines when Axel Scheffler, the illustrator famous for the Gruffalo series, made his book to explain COVID-19 to primary school age children available on the app.

The book was written by a team at the publishers Nosy Crow, with help from specialists, including headteachers, a psychologist and a professor of infectious diseases. It aims to answer, step by step, in age-appropriate language common questions and concerns about the virus. It ends on the question we all have: ‘What’s going to happen next?’

Its answer is direct and honest:

“One day, quite soon, though nobody knows exactly when, you’ll be able to…do lots of things that you enjoy but that you can’t do now…One day this strange time will be over.” – Coronavirus – A book for children by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts, illustrated by Axel Sheffler.

BookSmart has an expanding range of age-appropriate free ebooks in its health and wellbeing section, including new titles to explain COVID-19 to children.


The trust we have in patient groups is key when we look for materials for our children. The National Schizophrenia Fellowship of Scotland on its Support in Mind website draws attention to another free book to engage primary school age children through the cartoon characters Dave the Dog and Nurse Dotty. Dotty reassures Dave about his worries about COVID-19, with the result that:

“Now Dave knows the truth he is no longer scared

He knows what to do to keep himself prepared.” 

– Dave the dog is worried about coronavirus by Molly Watts


The global not-for-profit organisation the International Association of Children in Museums hosts a series of PDFs based on an animated video created by the Italian Children’s museums outlining COVID-19 for older children.

The site currently offers direct links to PDF versions of the animation in 17 languages, with more available from the Museum of Verona, and plans to expand this range further.

The animation brings the virus to life in an engaging way, giving it a passport with a height declared at ‘100 nanometers’, and describing it as athletic, sticky, and `contagiously friendly’.


We should leave the last word on this with Professor Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was the clinical consultant on the Axel Scheffler book:

“This pandemic is changing children’s lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all. Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story – this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them. This book puts children IN the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with.” – Professor Graham Medley


Visit for a review of the BookSmart app…

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Read the patient group review of `Dave the dog’ at…

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Watch the Italian COVID-19 animation for older children at…

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Read PDF translations of the video at…

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Keep up with patient group resources on COVID-19, including for children at our sister blog and twitter #PAGC19…

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