26 September 2023

Children’s book shows virus as the enemy

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Children’s Health Queensland has launched a new book aimed at helping young people understand the COVID-19 pandemic.

Birdie and the Virus follows Birdie and her friend, Mr Frog, as they face the challenges of a virus spreading in their community.

After Mr Frog becomes sick, the book takes children on a journey of recovery from testing for the virus to treatment, while reinforcing the importance of staying home, hand-washing and keeping connected with friends during isolation.

The book is the latest addition to the Australian-first Birdie’s Tree series of illustrated story books created by Children’s Health Queensland to help young children process their emotions during, and after, a natural disaster or unusual event.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Steven Miles said the book was an important tool to help support the State’s youngest people during this unprecedented time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced major changes to our way of life, unlike anything Queensland families have ever experienced before,” Mr Miles said.

“Children in particular may be confused or struggling with changes to their daily routine and family life.”

Senior Psychologist with Children’s Health Queensland and co-author of the books, Andrea Baldwin said infants and young children could experience more disturbance and anxiety than older children or adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was because they had limited understanding of the events going on around them.

“Young children feel secure when their world is ordered and predictable. They need that sense of security to explore and learn, grow and develop in healthy ways,” Dr Baldwin said.

“Disruption and uncertainty make it hard for families to maintain routines and help children feel that the world makes sense.”

She said children also picked up on their parents’ emotions.

“When the family is experiencing stresses like job insecurity, financial worries or family members becoming ill, young children will be affected at a crucial stage of brain development. This can have long-term as well as immediate impacts on their emotional wellbeing,” Dr Baldwin said.

She said reading a story like Birdie and the Virus with a caring adult could help a young child work through the distressing experiences and big feelings of today’s difficult times.

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