A new book published today aims to help children stay hopeful and positive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The story is a sequel to 'My Hero is You: how kids can fight COVID-19!', published in April 2020.
Both books have been released by a collaboration of 60 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the MHPSS Collaborative for Children & Families in Adversity.
'My Hero is You 2021: how kids can hope with COVID-19!' draws on the daily realities of millions of children since the beginning of the pandemic. For many, the pandemic continues to disrupt their education, recreation, and time with friends, family and teachers.
The story – aimed primarily at children aged 6-11 years – sees the return of Ario, a fantasy creature who travels the world helping children to find hope in the future and joy in simple pleasures. Together with old and new friends, Ario addresses the fears, frustrations and concerns children are facing in the current phase of the pandemic, and explores the various coping mechanisms that they can use when faced with difficult emotions like fear, grief, anger and sadness.
The new story drew from responses to a survey of more than 5000 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world who described the challenges they continue to face in the second year of the pandemic.
Reaching children everywhere
The book is currently available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili. Its predecessor is now available in more than 140 languages, including sign language and Braille, and in more than 50 adaptations, in animated video, read-aloud, theatre, activity books and audio formats. Examples include an adaptation for Native Americans, a coloring book for children in Syria, and an animation developed by a team led by Stanford Medicine in the USA.
Since April 2020, governments, universities, nongovernmental organizations, media outlets and celebrities have joined forces with the United Nations to facilitate a truly global distribution of the first book in the series. Initiatives include the roll-out of audio versions and workshops relating to the book among refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh; the broadcasting of an animated version on Mongolian national television; and the inclusion of the book as a free supplement with a national newspaper in Greece.
The new storybook can be used by parents and teachers in conjunction with a guide entitled 'Actions for Heroes', released by the same group in February 2021. Already available in more than a dozen languages, the guide advises parents, caregivers and teachers on how to create the right conditions for children to openly share their feelings and worries related to the pandemic and includes activities based on the books in the series.