As people around the world continue to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Jere Confrey, Ph.D., Joseph D. Moore Distinguished Professor of mathematics education at the NC State College of Education, has written a book to help children understand why they must remain separated from their older relatives whom they love.
Confrey initially wrote Love Without Hugs to help her grandchildren understand that she continues to love them even though she cannot currently show affection through hugs.
The book helps children understand why they must stay away from their grandparents even though they are not feeling sick with typical symptoms like a cough. It explains in a simple way how children, even when feeling healthy, can be carriers of a virus and spread it to others who are more at-risk for contracting it.
The book positions children as heroes who can help keep their loved ones safe, and explains that they will be able to have physical contact with their grandparents again once the virus is under control.
“I wanted to reassure my grandkids that pandemics do end, that scientists invent vaccines and that their grandparents will always continue to love their grandkids,” Confrey said.
Confrey originally created handmade versions of the book for each of her grandkids, complete with actual family photos. Once neighbors and friends learned about the book and began asking for copies of their own to help explain the pandemic to their kids, Confrey decided to self-publish the story on Amazon.com, where it is available for Kindle and in paperback.
She partnered with illustrator Tatiana Minina, who used Confrey and her family as the models for the drawings found in the book. Love Without Hugs is recommended for kids between the ages of 2 and 8.
“It’s been a really fun process that brought our family together. Now I’m hoping it will be helpful to all the families out there who are working to get through these trying times,” Confrey said.
Confrey said she plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book to help purchase personal protective equipment for medical professionals in need.