Photo of a child wearing a mask taking a book off a shelf

“C is for Coronavirus, P is for Pandemic: COVID-19 in Children’s Picture Books”

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 400 children’s picture books about COVID-19 have been published. In her research, Cara Byrne, lecturer in the Department of English and faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies, has analyzed these books and found that while many aim to address children’s concerns and facilitate an age-appropriate understanding of the pandemic, most do not acknowledge the lack of autonomy children have, especially in making choices about attending school, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In her presentation “C is for Coronavirus, P is for Pandemic: COVID-19 in Children’s Picture Books,” Byrne will detail her findings and argue that while many of these books ultimately fail as resources for children, they provide a significant record of adults’ thoughts of the virus, of medical professionals, and of children themselves and show us how adult perceptions have changed at different points during the pandemic. And, as is important to recognize with any children’s picture book, these books also reveal whose voices, stories, and experiences shape COVID-19 narratives and whose are left out.

This lecture, hosted by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, will take place Tuesday, March 1, at noon in Clark Hall, Room 206; the event also will be livestreamed.