At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, siblings Cookie and Kissie Kaur, both students at Zionsville Community High School, were confronted with the challenge of explaining the sudden changes to their 4-year-old brother, Soch Kaur, who they call Bab.
“Our brother Bab is very talkative and curious, “ said Cooke, a 16-year-old sophomore. “So when quarantine began, he would ask a lot of questions, like, ‘Why can’t I go visit Jazzy (his cousin)?’ or, ‘Why do we need masks?’”
Explaining a pandemic to their younger brother, who was 3 years old in March, was difficult, and with Bab, it often led to more questions than answers. But in time, the sisters felt they had found a solution, a way of contextualizing a complex, global medical anomaly in a way a child could understand. By combining Cookie’s writing with Kissie’s illustrations, they created a 36-page children’s picture book called “COVID-19: Viruses and how to stay safe.”
“He loves picture books, so my sister and I decided to create a book for him,” Cookie said. “Collaborating on this was a significant learning experience for the both of us. What started as a small project for our brother ended up being a real, published book, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.”
The children’s picture book explains what a virus is, how the body’s immune system works and how COVID-19 has affected the world, including the ways people try to protect themselves. When the pandemic started, more people began wearing masks, practicing social distancing and emphasizing the importance of hand-washing – concepts that confused Bab.
“We wanted to put a lot of pictures in there because, mostly, children are visual learners,” said Kissie, a 14-year-old freshman. “And we personified each of the viruses and gave each of the children in the book a personality, too.”
“Something that could otherwise be a scary or difficult topic became something he enjoys having us read to him,” Cookie said. “We hope this book helps anyone else who isn’t sure how to answer their questioning little ones.”
Now, the sisters read Bab the story at night, and it has quickly become his favorite book. The family enjoys spending time at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library, and they hope to send copies of the book to libraries across the state.
The book is available on Amazon.