Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus

Feb 28, 2020
Originally published on April 1, 2020 12:10 pm

Updated on March 16 at 1:56 p.m. ET

Kids, this comic is for you.

It's based on a radio story that NPR education reporter Cory Turner did. He asked some experts what kids might want to know about the new coronavirus discovered in China.

To make this comic, we've used his interviews with Tara Powell at the University of Illinois School of Social Work, Joy Osofsky at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and Krystal Lewis at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Print and fold a zine version of this comic here. Here are directions on how to fold it. To read this comic in Chinese, click here. To read it in Spanish, click here.

Malaka Gharib/ NPR
Malaka Gharib/ NPR
Malaka Gharib/ NPR
Malaka Gharib/ NPR
Malaka Gharib/ NPR
Malaka Gharib/ NPR

Malaka Gharib is an NPR editor and the author and illustrator of I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir, about being first-generation Filipino Egyptian American.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

With so much news these days about the spread of coronavirus, maybe you're feeling a bit anxious. Well, imagine how kids are feeling. NPR's Cory Turner has been talking with child development experts about how to help children make sense of all this.

CORY TURNER, BYLINE: Actually, kids - yeah, you, in the backseat - I'm just going to talk straight to you. So first things first - you're probably wondering, what is this coronavirus thing?

TARA POWELL: The coronavirus is really interesting.

TURNER: Tara Powell is one of several supersmart (ph) people I spoke with. She teaches at the University of Illinois School of Social Work.

POWELL: Well, a lot of the symptoms are similar to the flu, so you can have a cough. You can have a fever. You can have other types of flu-like symptoms. It actually originated from a bat.

TURNER: At least, that's scientists' best theory at this point - kind of cool, right? And it gives me the perfect excuse to play this.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE")

WILL ARNETT: (As Batman) I'm Batman-ing (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M BATMAN")

LIL DICKY: (Singing) I'm Batman. I'm awesome. I got a nine-pack. I'm awesome...

TURNER: The next thing you need to know comes from somebody named Joy Osofsky. She's a clinical and developmental psychologist at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. And she says there really haven't been many cases of coronavirus here yet. While there will be more, so far, most of the cases everywhere else haven't been that bad.

JOY OSOFSKY: And a very low percentage of coronavirus cases have occurred so far with children. And if they do occur with children, they tend to be very mild.

TURNER: Like mild salsa.

OSOFSKY: The other thing that's really important for you to know is that the medical people are on top of it so that they can protect all of us.

TURNER: Tara Powell told me there are lots of helpers out there.

POWELL: Lots of helpers, yeah - lots of people working at the government level, at the community level. Parents also will work to keep you safe - so making sure that you're protected from getting sick, just like they do with the flu.

TURNER: And you also have the power to protect yourself. Dr. Krystal Lewis works at the National Institute of Mental Health, and she helps kids who struggle with anxiety. And she says you really need to...

KRYSTAL LEWIS: Wash your hands, and make sure that you're not sneezing and then touching other people or touching your nose and your mouth.

TURNER: Or touching other people's noses or mouths - not that you would because, I mean, that would be weird. Also, when you wash your hands, use soap. And don't just do it for three seconds. Try singing the birthday song in your head twice while you're scrubbing. Oh, and if you pick your nose and then wipe it on your desk, Dr. Lewis says you not only have to wash your hands...

LEWIS: Then you might want to wash your desk.

TURNER: Tara Powell says there's one more thing she'd like your help with. You've probably heard that coronavirus was first seen in China. But she says please don't avoid kids or say mean things about them just because you think they might have a mom or a dad from China, or maybe they visited China.

POWELL: We all have to remember that just because somebody looks different or talks different doesn't mean they're at a higher risk of getting the coronavirus or spreading it either.

TURNER: I'm running out of time here, so Dr. Lewis wants you to know one more thing. If you still have questions, ask your mom. Ask your dad, your auntie, your teacher because...

LEWIS: A lot of times, what you hear in the news, what you see on social media, even what your friends tell you can make you a lot more scared and anxious than you really need to be.

TURNER: After all, she says, it's not your job to do all the worrying. Leave that to the rest of us.

Cory Turner, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.