On April 14, the Emory Global Health Institute launched a contest for authors to write a children’s book to explain COVID-19. The catch was, they only had until April 29 to submit their final drafts.
Author Lora Hyler was in the middle of writing the second installment in The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes series when she heard about this contest. With only 10 days left in the contest, she decided to jump in and write Our Bodies Stay Home, Our Imaginations Run Free.
The book is centered around Maya, a 7-year-old who has been separated from her school, her friends, and her grandparents because of the coronavirus pandemic. As her 8th birthday party approaches, she worries that she won’t be able to celebrate. But with the help of her family, they learn to make masks, enjoy the outdoors, and play creatively from afar.
“I was hoping to create a realistic situation of what a family might be dealing with but yet, really try to have fun with it as well,” says Hyler.
Hyler says a big part of her inspiration came from taking walks around her neighborhood and seeing all the chalk art kids had created around her block. As both adults and children have struggled with the changes to their lives, Hyler says there is a big resiliency that children offer to their families.
“Thinking in terms of the kind of advice that we would have gotten from Mr. Rogers, that would have been to look to the helpers," she says. "And in my mind, I was thinking that the children are very much our helpers as we go through the pandemic.”
Hyler hopes this book will give kids the opportunity to connect with both the bad times during the pandemic and the good ones, too.
“I think this book will be very relatable for kids who have felt some of the fear associated with the coronavirus but also seeing tons of signs of hope throughout the book,” she says.
Have a question you'd like WUWM to answer? Submit your query below.