Often, when I'm struggling with how to explain something to my children – whether it's emotional hardships like the death of a loved one or important issues like racism – I will turn to one of the simplest yet most profound resources available: children's books. It's always served as a solid starting place to read aloud from the pages of an illustrated story – and to take cues from the author's carefully crafted words – before embarking on an otherwise difficult conversation that my toddler or four-year-old wouldn't be equipped to handle.
But as my young kids began to learn more and more about the current coronavirus outbreak, I've struggled with how to explain this "new normal" to them without relying on the gentle guidance of a children's book. No such hardcover story or pint-sized board book exists. But a fledgling author named Kim St. Lawrence created the next best thing.
She produced a video version of a children's book about social distancing called Time to Come In, Bear, and she shared it on YouTube for families to access for free.
The sweet story follows a bunny who has to explain to a bear why they have to stay inside. "The world caught a cold," the story begins. "You won't get the germs if you just stay at home." The animated narrative touches on many of the worries kids have right now, from how long this will last ("it isn't forever, Bear . . . just for a time") to why we can't see our friends and grandparents ("you miss them, I know"). It also explains that heroes are hard at work to "make the world alright."
And although the 90-second video can't possibly answer every question a kid asks, it's just the starting point many parents need this year.