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‘My Hero is You’: Understanding COVID through the eyes of ‘Ario’

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Srinagar: A new storybook compiled by 50 international organizations is breaking the internet by its novel concept of teaching children about the intricacies of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus has not just left the medical practitioners and researchers searching for solutions but also left parents struggling to explain the phenomenon to young children in a creative way.

Sensing the need, a new children storybook was produced by 50 organizations including the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Save the Children. It is aimed at helping children understand and come to terms with COVID-19.

Titled “My Hero is You”, the book is a useful tool to explain the intricacies of coronavirus through a fantasy creature called Ario. Importantly, it focuses on prevention, management of difficult emotions amid the pandemic.

 “I’d recommend all kids and teens to read Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s world and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery,” said acclaimed Kashmiri Author, Shahnaz Bashir.

Noted Academician and social activist Hameeda Nayeem said books are the only alternative to the world that has been shut upon us because the earth is under repair.

“Storybooks, poetry books, interesting biographies and autobiographies that are fit for kids should be explored by the parents. Books offer alternate worlds in which they can remain for most of the quarantine time. Poetry could send them into raptures provided they are also helped by elders. Religious books including the stories of prophets can turn them to find solace in God,” she said

Poet and Research Scholar Huzaifa Pandit said reading is a positive habit with or without COVID-19. “However, in this situation, books can prove extremely useful. Children can be encouraged to cultivate values of empathy, sensitivity, care and concern for others, which will go a long way in slowing down the infection, and creating a better post-COVID-19 world,” he said.

Author Shabir Ahmad Mir said stories rather than books can be a great way to make children understand what is happening and why we are doing what we are doing, that is the social distancing.

“Again our children have seen lockdowns year after year so I am afraid our children have already normalized the lockdown and stay at home thing,” he said.