All over the world, schools shut down, and everyone was told to quarantine for an indefinite amount of time. COVID-19 was unprecedented and changed life for millions of people in a matter of weeks.
While students and adults are able to read news articles to educate themselves about the virus, many children are left confused about the state of affairs around them.
Emory Global Health Institute created a children’s book contest to explain the pandemic and received more than 400 entries from around the globe.
Kevin Poplawski, a writer and physical therapist with more than 20 years of experience, entered the contest with the support and encouragement of his wife, a physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“The whole premise of the contest was, ‘How do we help kids understand what is going on with this pandemic?’” Poplawski told WSB-TV.
Poplawski said he was inspired to write the child-friendly book after his 5-year-old daughter came to him with questions recently.
“Almost in tears, she said, ‘Dad, I’m afraid my school blowed down.’ And that’s how she said it. And I said, ‘What do you mean Emily?’ and she goes, ‘Well I haven’t seen my school in a while,” Poplawski said.
That experience with Poplawski’s daughter came to life in the pages of the book “Together: Living Life during COVID-19.” The whole thing took two weeks, WSB-TV reported.
Poplawski worked with illustrator Michael Rausch for the story, ultimately earning honorable mention from Emory.
“I drew on a lot of my own experiences with my own children to be able to explain those different areas of fear and worry that kids were feeling,” Poplawski said.
Those emotions led the story’s main character, Olivia, to feel empowered and purposeful.
“They don’t know what this world right now is about. Neither do we, but hopefully this kind of helps to explain things a little bit,” Poplawski said.
Read the contest winner, “COVID-19 Helpers,” Poplawski’s "Together: Living Life during COVID-19” and the other honorable mentions of the contest here.
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