A class act: Teacher writes children’s book about pandemic
She gets high marks for originality.
A local educator has found an intriguing way to help kids understand the changes brought about by the coronavirus.
Kristen Meehan, who teaches at P.S. 264 in Bay Ridge, wrote and illustrated “This is Not Forever,” a book that conveys the difficulties kids and their families are facing.
Meehan, a Bay Ridge native, has taught for 14 years and always had an interest in creating a children’s book.
“This started out because a friend of mine sent me a link to a contest they were having to talk about COVID-19,” said Meehan. “I said, ‘You know what, let me see if I can.’”
Meehan, who has three kids of her own, was surprised by how easily the book took shape.
“It’s all based on real things that happened in our house,” she said. “There are lots of questions they have. Why can’t we see grandma or grandpa? When can we go back to the playground? When is school going to open again? So I really just based it on real conversations we were having in our home.”
Meehan has been teaching nearly 300 kids through remote learning while her own kids struggle with not being at school.
“I hear what my daughter is saying about missing her teachers and friends and how difficult it is to do her work and submit it online,” she said. “And then I also hear from my students. I teach kindergarten through fifth grade, and they say, ‘We miss you so much. We can’t wait to be back in school.’”
The book tackles some tough subjects, including the challenges faced by essential workers who have to leave kids with grandparents.
“Kids have so many questions, and I always turn to books,” said Meehan. “Reading a book together is a really great way to get conversation going and answer questions. Some of these questions are difficult for children to understand, especially the younger ones. When you see it in a story and it’s told from a 5-year-old’s point of view, with questions the main character is asking, it makes it easier for kids to relate to it.”
Meehan is pleased by the response to the book.
“The whole thing got noticed once I did the Youtube video [on the book], which I did with the intention of sharing it with my students, and now it has 24,000 views,” she said. “I’ve had orders from Hawaii, California, Florida and everywhere in between.
“The nicest thing about this is the number of people who reached out to me thanking me for this book. It’s something we’ll have as a memory of this time in history. I tear up every time I read these messages from people.”
The response on social media has been positive.
“Just read the book to my children tonight,” wrote local John Quaglione. “Book is perfect, captures so much of what the kids have experienced during the coronavirus.”
“This is excellent,” wrote one Facebook user. “The children need this now more than ever.”
“The truth is [kids] are seeing it on TV and hearing us talk about it,” said Meehan. “So I felt like it was important to really answer those questions as honestly as you can while keeping it kid-friendly. Explain what’s happening and why we can’t see certain people and why we need to wear a mask.
“These are very strange times, especially for children … It’s important to say it’s okay to be sad about your birthday party getting cancelled, that this isn’t going to last forever.”
Meehan is donating most of the profits from the book to Robin Hood NYC. So far she has raised nearly $1,000 for the organization.
To buy “This is Not Forever,” visit https://bit.ly/3f8PGAS.
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