A new children’s book is aimed at explaining the current health scare to kids. Courtesy image.

Coronavirus and social distancing are scary and confusing concepts for children. Local authors Susan Smith and Tara Fass want to change that. Drawing on their backgrounds as an educator and therapist respectively, these women have both published books to help children process these turbulent times and find avenues for joy and creativity.

“The impact of COVID and quarantine on families and children today is something we will be discussing for decades to come, attempting to make sense of it all. It’s essential that we talk about the ‘tough stuff,’ about real feelings,” said Tara Fass who is a marriage and family therapist and co-author of “When We Stayed Home”.

Fass wrote this book alongside Judith A. Proffer to help children navigate the challenges of our new way of living. The book chronicles the journey of a young boy living in lockdown who deals with frustration, loneliness, and boredom but also finds creative ways to have fun and bond with his parents.

Susan Smith’s new book “Goldie and Gretzky… and the Coronavirus”, teaches children similar lessons through the adventures of two adorable ducks from the Douglas Park pond. The ducks, surprised by the absence of people, travel around Santa Monica bringing joy to their neighbors who are sheltering in place.

“The book is a great way to explain to children about the virus. And it’s not scary. It’s very embracing with the ducks,” said Smith. “In the book I have suggested activities for parents to do with children and I have some coloring pages. It’s a very hands on nice book, and people are looking for activities with their kids especially ones that relate to what’s going on now.”

Smith, who is a retired special needs educator, has been wanting to write a children’s book for a long time. She was inspired to write the story of Goldie and Gretzky when she awoke one morning during lockdown to find two adorable ducks swimming in her neighbor’s pool. All proceeds from the book will go to Inner City Arts, an organization she has volunteered with for four years.

“They provide art education to schools and children in inner city LA and it’s a beautiful facility with fantastic programs,” said Smith, who is an artist herself and created all the collage artwork for the book. “I feel that art opens up your eyes to the world and is a wonderful form of self-expression.”

While Smith’s book explores an engaging world beyond the duck pond, Fass’s book creates an imaginative world inside of the house. “When We Stayed Home,” is a book many children will relate to as they learn to deal with the restrictions of COVID-19.

According to Fass, the world of coronavirus offers unique challenges for young children who have yet to grasp a concrete sense of time or the endurance skills to understand that this way of living will eventually pass. It can also be very frustrating for them to see things they perceive as unfair, such as an older sibling getting to see a friend while their best friend’s parents insist on online only playdates.

The book gives space for children to share their emotions while also focusing on all of the fun and positivity that can be created inside the house. Fass, who has years of experience working with the parents of children going through the trauma of divorce, has plenty of advice to help children process the traumas of coronavirus.

“Adults may lounge around in their pajamas or half-dressed, but I do not think that’s good for children,” said Fass. Instead she recommends, “regular meal time, regular bedtime, regular nap time, and not too much free time.”

While she recommends upholding structure in children’s life, Fass also reminds parents that children need alone time. “Children even around four or five like some private time where they can shut out the world and go to their little safe space,” said Fass.

The biggest lesson shared imparted by the book is that kids can become empowered to become “super helpers” during this time. “Get children involved, have them help with the groceries, make a game out of it,” said Fass. “Children love to help and have a natural desire to please. If you can somehow harness that for good, they are very happy.”