The Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has collaborated on a series of fictional stories for children that address pandemic-specific issues like social distancing.
The three picture books, which follow young Oscar and Zoe after their school closes because of the coronavirus, were created as part of a project originally designed to help teachers in Canton Vaud introduce digital education in the classroom.
“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and life went into lockdown, we realised there was growing demand for age-appropriate stories to help parents and educators talk about issues such as isolation and social distancing with children,” saidexternal link Francesco Mondada of the Center for Learning Sciences (LEARN) at EPFL.
LEARN project partner, consulting firm Edit Change Management, wrote the books in just a few weeks. They tackle lockdown issues such as cancelled birthday parties, managing screen time and keeping in touch with loved ones.
Each book features a list of suggested games, recipes and craft projects, along with questions to help families and teachers talk about the pandemic with children.
There is also a digital element to the books: some of the activities at the end cover coding and algorithms.
Addressing children's lockdown worries
The books were created in consultation with psychiatrist Serge Tisseron, who emphasised that parents should read the books with their children.
“They’re not designed for independent reading,” he said. “It’s helpful to remind parents that children have their own worries and fears about the situation we’re living through. They need reassurance and support in these unprecedented times.”
The first story was published on April 8 and has been downloaded over 10,000 times. All three books are availableexternal link free of charge in English, French and German.