A free children’s book about the coronavirus illustrated by the award-winning Gruffalo artist Axel Scheffler has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
Coronavirus: A Book for Children is aimed at five to nine-year-olds and hopes to simply answer key questions they may be asking their parents or carers about the COVID-19 outbreak.
It has been written by staff at the publishing house Nosy Crow, with expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and advice from two headteachers and a child.
The opening page reads: “There’s a new word you might have heard. You might hear people talking about it or you might hear it on the news.
“This word is the reason that you’re not going to school. It is the reason you can’t go outside very often or visit your friends … But what is it and why is everyone talking about it?
“The word is coronavirus.”
In just the first 24 hours the digital book was accessed over 100,000 times directly from the publisher’s website and hundreds of thousands of times further from other hosts
Scheffler, who worked with author Julia Donaldson to illustrate The Gruffalo and many other books, said: “I asked myself what I could do as a children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad.
“So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus.
“I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”
Demand for the book means it has already been translated into 17 languages.
Kate Wilson, managing director of Nosy Crow, said: “We have just been overwhelmed with the response to our book.”
Professor Medley added: “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.”
:: The book can be downloaded here