Although COVID-19 hospitalizations are down, the virus has not gone away, and neither has its effect on mental health, including that of children. An October 2021 study indicates that over 140,000 children have experienced the death of a primary or secondary caregiver due to COVID-19. As we face whatever comes next, the Library is ready to help with training education professionals to counsel children dealing with overcoming the loss of loved ones, emotional trauma, and anxiety due to the pandemic.
In the spring of 2021, Education and Social Science Research Librarian Ashley Hosbach secured funding from the Jefferson Trust to establish the first pandemic children’s book collection in the country. The resource, located in Brown Science & Engineering Library, is a one-of-a-kind collection standing at the intersection of public health, community advocacy, and education. The criteria for inclusion are that the books must be pro-vaccination, should normalize wearing face masks, promote good hygiene, and establish doctors and scientists as trusted figures.
The collection, which Hosbach has mapped to the Virginia Department of Education Health Standards of Learning for easier classroom integration, is something she hopes educators, counselors, and parents will use locally. Beyond our community, it can serve as a model reference collection, drawing researchers from across the country.
Hosbach stresses that the collection is not just about the Library’s response to this particular virus but the future: “I believe we’re in a unique position to redefine public health education in our country. In this case we don’t want to return to the pre-COVID ‘normal’ where, perhaps, public health wasn’t a main focus in our curriculum. Our schools should strive for more robust public health education post-COVID, so, when we’re faced with another crisis, our population is properly educated.”
Titles that Hosbach suggests as particularly noteworthy include:
- “Just a Mask” by Josefina Bernal-Gurrola
- “The Day the Lines Changed” by Kelley Donner
- “Billie and the Brilliant Bubble: Social Distancing for Children” by Tara Travieso
- “While We Can’t Hug” by Eoin McLaughlin
- “Henrietta’s Thistleberry Boots” by Dr. Laura Kirby
- “School in the Time of Coronavirus” by Emily Mazzulla
- “June Almeida, Virus Detective!” by Suzanne Slade
- “Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor” by Ann D. Koffsky
- “When You Can’t See Me Smile: Expressing and Understanding Emotions While Wearing a Mask” by Emily Alston
See the collection in person on the main floor of Brown Science and Engineering Library, or read more in the collection guide.