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books to help kids with the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has turned our worlds upside down, kids included.

Kids are coping the best they know how with sheltering at home and staying put way more than usual, and let's be honest, they're starting to reach their threshold. They are missing their friends and possibly their beloved grandparents and caregivers. They are dealing with difficult transitions to virtual learning or homeschooling. It's a lot to deal with as a child.

Our kids also feel the stress at home as parents deal with the uncertainty, juggle work while also being the primary caregivers, or in some cases go through losing a job. Children may also have had to battle the illness, or witness someone in their family do so.

When it comes down to it, one of the best things you can do for a child is to read to them. Books are an excellent tool to lean on in uncertain times.

Teachers and librarians at BestKidsBooks hand-picked a selection of books to read to kids to help cope with the pandemic.


Newborn-2

At this age, babies and toddlers can still pick up on stress and anxiety in the home. For these very little ones, books can be used to create a calm atmosphere and a feeling of security, as well as reinforce a parent's love.

'The Wonder That Is You'

The Wonder That Is You

This book is a celebration of motherhood and of the birth (or arrival) of each and every precious child. The lyrical prose is lilting and tender, the illustrations lovely and soothing. The combination creates a warm, cozy feeling for both mama and babe.

$5.40

'Time for Bed'

'Time for Bed'

Like a well-known lullaby, this book slowly rocks us into a sweet slumber. Beloved by several generations, you can't go wrong with this selection by the prolific and popular Australian Mem Fox. We love a number of her other works, especially Koala Lou, which offers loving reassurance for young children.

$12.69

'Daddy Cuddles'

'Daddy Cuddles'

Affection and physical touch from loving parents can comfort your young one like nothing else. This cute, simple board book with repeating text shows all the many ways daddy animals cuddle their little ones. The reading of this book to your baby or toddler can encourage snuggling and cuddling and put you both at ease.

$4.03

'On the Night You Were Born'

On the Night You Were Born

Nancy Tillman's sweet and sentimental text centers on the theme that every child is unique and special. This well-loved book creates a calm and reassuring atmosphere to relax into before naptime or bedtime.

$5

Ages 3-5

These books offer an introduction to helping kids cope. This age is primed for tantrums and physically lashing out as they struggle to express why they feel the way they do. These selections will help start conversations with your little ones on change, loneliness, sickness, fear, kindness and compassion.

'Things That Go Away'

'Things That Go Away'

Recently published, this was created by Beatrice Alemagna, an Italian artist who has captured our hearts with her gorgeous illustrations. Her message is just as powerful—that all things are temporary in one way or another, except the love a parent has for their child. A fantastic book that has appeared at just the right time (featuring translucent pages kids can turn to move the item that is changing away), it is simple enough for the very young but engaging for older kids, too.

$15.32

'Lost and Found'

Lost and Found

Written and illustrated by, Oliver Jeffers, this is a reflection on the sadness that comes from loneliness and the comfort that comes from togetherness. When a boy thinks a little lonely penguin is actually a little lost penguin, he returns the penguin to where he thinks he may have come from—the South Pole! When he realizes his mistake, he hurries to rescue his new friend.

$14.89

'You Hold Me Up'

'You Hold Me Up'

This simple but profound book, made a standout by its touching and unique illustrations depicting modern Native peoples, shows all the ways that we "hold each other up." Its beautiful theme—that as family, friends and community members, we rely on each other's kindness and compassion—is especially appropriate during these times of emotional need.

$15.48

'Llama Llama Home with Mama'

'Llama Llama Home with Mama'

"Achy fever, stuffy head, llama llama back to bed!" We follow the ever-popular little Llama in this story as he comes down with a fever, sore throat and more. Boredom and discomfort are the dish of the day, made even worse when Mama Llama catches it too. A good selection to read with young ones when conversation of illness and viruses are on the agenda.

$11.69

'Owl Babies'

Owl Babies

This selection, which has been read countless times, voices a real and universal fear for children. The baby owls miss their mommy and are afraid she won't come back to the nest. Use this book to open up conversation with your little one on what else they might be afraid of during this time of pandemic—fears that you may have no idea of. Once these fears are out in the world, they will tend to shrink in size.

$13.99

Ages 6-8

We strive to help kids at this age voice their feelings and process their complicated emotions. Reach for the books that focus on issues brought into stark relief by the pandemic, such as missing our relatives, facing anxiety and recognizing unhealthy aspects of fear.

'Yoko’s Paper Cranes'

'Yoko\u2019s Paper Cranes'

This tender story, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, tells of the love between Yoko (who has moved to America) and her grandparents in Japan. Yoko's longing for her beloved Obaasan and Ojiisan will resonate with many children today who are missing time spent with grandparents. It's a sweet one.

$20.78

'There Might Be Lobsters'

'There Might Be Lobsters'

Sukie, a little dog, is so overwhelmed by worries that they turn into a paralyzing anxiety that keeps her from enjoying life—an appropriate character for this uncertain time when there is so much in our environment to make children (and adults!) anxious. Find out what prompts Sukie to overcome her fears and realize that a trip to the beach isn't as scary as she once thought.

$12.19

'My Magic Breath'

My Magic Breath

Especially useful in our current environment, this selection walks children through the exercise of mindful breathing. Great to read to kids at the end of the day, when their thoughts may be racing and preventing them from relaxing. Also good to use to carve out a calm moment anytime kids are stuck within negative feelings.

$11.59

'If I Had a Little Dream'

'If I Had a Little Dream'

The rhyming, poetic text of this lovely selection takes us into another world, decorated by enchanting illustrations and vibrant color. The pages of this book serve as an escape from the everyday and give us an opportunity to dream and let our minds wander. It feels like a secret hiding place—our own little private island where safety and security are a given.

$12.99

'Me and My Fear'

'Me and My Fear'

Fear takes the form of an invisible friend that accompanies the main character wherever she goes. The author recognizes fear as a necessary companion to help us stay safe from danger, while showing what can happen when we let our fear rule our lives. Use it as a conversation starter about what fears your child is holding onto during this time and how much fear is healthy as we live our everyday lives.

$12.29

'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'

'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'

A classic tale of irritation and frustration, detailing a day that starts off on the wrong foot and never seems to go right. Kids and parents alike can relate, given routines turned upside down and our current climate of uncertainty. We can see ourselves in Alexander. He brings a little levity to the universal feeling of irritation and helps us laugh—at both him and ourselves.

$14.70

Ages 9-10

Contrary to popular belief, older kids are not too old for picture books. They're long enough to elicit emotion and get this age group thinking, but short enough to fit into busy schedules. The illustrations can help kids feel like kids again and give them respite as they're stretching their wings into the tween world.

'Whimsy's Heavy Things'

'Whimsy's Heavy Things'

The simple text may lead readers to believe this pick is geared toward younger kiddos, but this concept is useful to introduce at any age. Whimsy is burdened by "heavy things," just like many of us in our current times when heavy things wait around every corner. Watch Whimsy learn that if she breaks up her heavy things and makes them useful, they can be useful to her.

$17.99

'Manjhi Moves a Mountain'

'Manjhi Moves a Mountain'

Set in India and based on a true story. Manjhi dedicates years to chiseling a passageway through a mountain to connect his village to the village on the other side, which has access to hospitals, food and work. This inspiring tale of sacrifice and perseverance demonstrates for children what can be accomplished by an ordinary person dedicated to helping others in need.

$12.59

'Breathe Like a Bear'

'Breathe Like a Bear'

This book is full of practical exercises to teach children how to use guided visualizations to achieve mindful breathing. With names like "candle breath" and "flower breath," favorites can be memorized and used at any time to calm their busy minds and relieve tension.

$16.90

'The Old Woman Who Named Things'

The Old Woman Who Named Things

Written by the talented Cynthia Rylant, this gorgeously illustrated book is a tearjerker, plain and simple. Having outlived all her friends, the old woman in this story names her car, bed and house, but refuses to name the shy, brown dog who visits her every day. Her loneliness is palpable, but her attachment to her new friend proves heartwarming. Read with older children who are struggling with loneliness themselves.

$1.55

'The Red Bicycle'

'The Red Bicycle'

Based on a true story, this book may inspire children to contribute to the lives of others during times of hardship. It tells of a boy who donates his beloved red bike to a used bicycle collection drive. The bike is sent to Africa, where it serves as transportation for numerous others. This pick gets kids thinking globally and gives them perspective on how one act of kindness can have an impressive and lasting ripple effect.

$17.28
From the Shop

Inspirational tales for toddlers.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

True

When it comes to registering for baby products, there's one word we love: convertible.

In contrast to items you use for a short period of time, convertible (or multi-use) products are made to grow with your baby… and trust us, that makes them worth their weight in gold.

Convertible items allow you to reap the benefits of your baby registry for years to come—and that's just savvy shopping, mama. Also savvy shopping? Creating your baby registry with Target and enjoying their Year of Benefits registry program for expectant parents. Just by starting your registry, you will get a welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. And Target's newest registry perk, the Year of Exclusive Deals, gives you discounts on essentials for your baby's whole first year when you sign up for Target Circle as well.

If you prioritize value and longevity when creating your registry, here are 10 items you'll love from day one through day 1,000… and beyond!


A crib that can grow through childhood + beyond

Simmons Kids Slumbertime Monterey 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

A crib is a necessity as you plan for life with your baby—you know that already. But what about in a couple of years when they need a toddler bed? Or a few years beyond that when they graduate to a bigger bed? Well, you're in luck: With the right attachments, this bed can be the only one they need until college.

$299.99

A cozy blanket for snuggles + security

Plush Velboa Baby Blanket I Love You - Cloud Island\u2122 White/Black

Blankets have earned their spot on millions upon millions of registries for good reason: They function as stroller covers or play mats during the early days, then become beloved security items in the toddler years.

$14.99

A comfy spot for feeding + stories

Baby Relax Addison Swivel Gliding Recliner

During your first months of motherhood, a comfortable gliding chair will be your second home as you spend time feeding and bonding. As your child grows (and mobility makes those snuggles harder to catch), you'll discover a new love for this cozy spot for stories and bedtime snuggles.

$329.99

https://goto.target.com/YJj2e

Sealy Cozy Rest Extra Firm Crib and Toddler Mattress

Fun fact: A standard crib and toddler bed actually use the same size mattress. That's why it's smart to get a quality crib mattress right out of the gate: One less thing to change up in a few years!

$59.99

A changing table that doubles as a dresser

Simmons\u00ae Kids Monterey 4 Drawer Dresser with change top

If space is at a premium in your baby's nursery, look for a combination changing table and dresser. That way, you can keep using the dresser long after your little one is potty trained.

$319.99

A car seat that converts to a booster

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

The safest place for your child is in the backseat of your car, in either a car seat or (later) booster. But instead of buying a new seat for each phase, you can check off multiple boxes at once by adding a convertible car seat to your registry.

$159.99

A stroller that accommodates big kids, too

Graco FastAction Jogger LX Stroller

The need for a good stroller doesn't end when your little one learns to walk, so look for a stroller that can accommodate bigger kids, too. We recommend a jogging stroller that allows you to attach an infant car seat and is still perfectly spacious for toddlers.

$146.99

A place to dine for years to come

Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

From first bites to family dinners around the table, one single high chair can be the solution you need. That is, if you look for a version that adapts into a booster seat when your child is ready for a plate at the table.

$99.99

A white noise machine + alarm clock in one

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

After spending months listening to ambient noise in the womb, white noise remains incredibly comforting for your child. It's nice to have a sound machine that can transition to a time-to-rise clock down the line. By cueing with sounds and colors, these clocks reinforce healthy sleep habits.

$59.99

A baby carrier that can haul a toddler, too

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

A carrier is a major help when your baby loves being held, but you need use of your hands. But even months or years down the line, you can still get use out of that carrier. To maximize longevity, look for one that can be used with your child facing outward or even carried on your back as they grow.

$29.99

Enjoy building your registry with Target, mama! The Year of Benefits is calling your name with a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more! 😉

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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