Free e-Book to Teach Kids about Coronavirus

An Important Resource for Parents

By Nicole Cerquitella, Publisher March 30, 2020

I wanted to let you all know about a wonderful book that has been created to help all of us parents to get through hard conversations with our kids about the Coronavirus.  This virus has dramatically altered all of our lives, and I struggle with knowing what (and how much) to tell my kids - how much detail, how do I inform them and answer their questions without scaring them, and so forth.  Meredith Polsky and Arlen Gaines, two local moms themselves, have written a book called I Have a Question about Coronavirus and have made it available to us all to DOWNLOAD FOR FREE.

I was fortunate enough to connect with the two authors and get some insight for you on their careers and this most helpful book:   

Macaroni Kid: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background/Career?


Meredith Polsky

My background is in clinical social work and special education. I’ve spent the past 20 years working for Matan, a non-profit organization I founded that focuses on disability inclusion in faith-based (Jewish) communities - schools, synagogues, camps, preschools, etc. I’m also the part-time Developmental Support Coordinator at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School in Rockville, and a social worker specializing in Selective Mutism at Growing Minds, Center for Child and Family Therapy (also in Rockville). 


Arlen Gaines

I’m a Clinical Supervisor and hospice social worker at JSSA Hospice in Rockville Maryland, where I’ve worked for the past 12 years. I have an advanced certification in hospice and palliative social work, and have developed a specialization in supporting families who have children with special needs around grief and loss. 


Macaroni Kid: What was your inspiration for writing this book?


I Have a Question about Coronavirus is actually the 4th book in our “I Have a Question” series. Initially, our plan was to write one book that helped children navigate the death of a loved one. Specifically, we wanted to write a book about death for kids with Autism and other special needs because really nothing existed that was geared towards kids who think in concrete ways, and who might need clearer language in order to understand challenging topics. For example, most books for children about death are about an animal, or rely heavily on metaphors. Not all children can relate to those ideas, and we wanted to fill that gap.


After I Have a Question about Death was published in 2017, we heard from many readers that there are so many topics that parents and caregivers struggle to explain to their kids - whether or not they have special needs. We then set out to write I Have a Question about Divorce (2018) and I Have a Question about Cancer (2019), two tough topics that a lot of families grapple with.


When the Coronavirus crisis hit, we felt a deep sense of concern for every family out there - regardless of special needs - having to explain this new world to their children. As parents, we are navigating this as well! I was worried about children’s level of anxiety during this new strange reality, and I wanted to create something that would be age-appropriate and wouldn't induce fear. 


Arlen and I quickly realized we already had a solid foundation because of our other books - and we thought we should at least try to get something out quickly that would be free and totally accessible to families during this challenging time. 


We reached out to our publisher (Jessica Kingsley Publishers in London) to “get their blessing” and they loved the idea. Arlen got to work on the preface and the suggestions for parents and caregivers, and I got to work on the story and images (from Symbol Stix) and 48 hours later we had a new book! I also have to give a huge shout-out to my 15 year old son, Hayden, who formatted the entire book in one day. He’s my “homeschool” intern!


Macaroni Kid:  Can you tell us about how you sourced the info for the book about Covid-19? (Parents always want to make sure any info shared is true/factual)


We have made a lot of wonderful connections through the process of writing our first 3 books - experts in child development, pediatricians and other physicians, social workers, psychologists and other authors. We were careful to not give too much medical information (especially since this information seems to change daily), and we only used that information from trusted sources like the CDC. In terms of the questions we included, our own children’s questions helped inform that a lot, and we scoured our social media pages (personal and professional) to see what other kids were asking their parents. Of course, we also checked in with friends and relatives to see if we covered the gamut of their kids’ concerns.


Macaroni Kid:  What ages would you say the book speaks to?  


Our books are mostly geared towards children ages 5-11, but we include a short picture story that has fewer words that is great for younger children, or those who learn best from visual cues. And, we know from our own kids (who range in age from 11-17) that this particular book about Coronavirus was helpful for older teens too.


Macaroni Kid:  Have you used the book to talk to your own kids about the virus?


Yes! Our children reviewed this book every step of the way and provided suggestions and input. For example, we didn’t originally have anything about the term “social distancing”. One of our kids said we should put it in because that’s something other children are going to hear about a lot. When the book was done and they read it, kids from both of our families said, “That was actually really helpful.”


Macaroni Kid:  Are you seeing any silver linings in the forced social distancing in your own lives?  With your own families?



Yes! In between getting my own work done, we’re trying to use this slower pace to focus on things that are out of the box for us. We all do yoga together every morning, and my kids are starting to accept that! We’re meditating every night (also something we’ve never done before!) and we have lunch and dinner together as a family. I have really loved that. 



We’re able to have dinner as a family every night, and have been having quality time playing board games and taking walks. We find the fresh air is incredibly helpful.


I am so grateful to these two women for sharing their expertise and time with us, and for creating such a critically important resource for families across the world, as we all do our best to protect and educate our children during this pandemic.