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How Reading Can be a Balm for Kids During Covid-19

Being transported into another world through reading can be an act of self-care

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically reshaped our lives--sending us indoors, restricting those we come in contact with, and forcing more solitary time upon us.

This time can be especially difficult for children who may not fully grasp why they can't go to school or play with their friends like normal. They also aren't equipped with the toolbox of coping skills that adults have at their disposal. Luckily for children, reading can fill that void of coping skills and act as a balm for the turbulence and anxiety caused by Covid-19.

But not just reading any old book--a good book with good characters and a good plot in a good setting. A book that children can escape to, get lost in, and find a temporary reprieve. These kinds of books comfort us as readers, and it feels like we're indulging in a treat when we open their pages.

Good books can take our minds off ourselves, and we all likely need a healthy dose of escapism during such stressful times.

The quickest way out of your own head is to enter someone else's.

Books provide children with characters to befriend, interact with, and learn from. For instance, the lives of Seth and Julia Ambrose--the protagonists of the Waldameer Mystery Files series--are uniquely engaging: they spend much of their time immersed in the delightfully carefree atmosphere of an amusement park. They work with friends to solve mysteries at the park, eat their fair share of Fudge House treats, and learn local history along the way.

What child wouldn't want to escape to an amusement park instead of being holed up at home with bleary eyes from hours of virtual school?

Another reason books can help children during difficult times like Covid-19 is that books have an inherent logic that doesn't exist in the real world. Books have a beginning, middle, and end. One thing leads to another. Events are explained and problems have solutions. Throughout the course of a book, things unravel but are tied up by the end.

One of the biggest challenges of living during Covid-19 is the uncertainty: when will I return to school or work? When can I see my at-risk family members? When can I travel again? For children, this uncertainty is especially hard because they likely don't see the big, complicated picture like adults do. So when they read a mystery book like The Long-Lost Locket, for instance, their brain relaxes a bit because they know what to expect. A locket has been lost and throughout the book, it will be found.

The rhythm of mystery books is comforting: a mystery emerges, clues are examined, different possibilities are explored, and finally, the mystery is solved.

In mystery books, unexplained things are explained and unsolved questions are answered. In an uncertain world, there is something very satisfying about the logical resolution of case opened/case closed.

Reading a mystery book like The Long-Lost Locket reminds children that, though much is out of their control during Covid-19, they still have agency--even if it's just deciding which good book to get lost in next.



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