MILLERSVILLE, Pa. — Kerrie Farkas had never written a children's book before.
The Millersville University english professor is used to authoring long papers on writing and business. Yet when the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit South Central Pennsylvania in mid-March, she started using her talents, with the help of her own teenagers, to write a kid's book.
"I realized in the difficulty of explaining the situation to children, and so storytelling is a great way to communicate and start conversations with kids," Farkas said.
The story centers around Polly, a young girl ready for spring and an exciting summer. That's when "an icky, sticky virus", as Farkas writes in the book, "sneakily and silently" moves from person to person, scaring everyone.
Young Polly didn't know what to do, but she started getting help from three superheroes: Mister Disenfector, Ms. Quarantina, and Mrs. Vaccinator. Unfortunately, none of the three were able to stop the virus from spreading.
The story culminates at a digital town hall discussion, where Polly saves the day by suggesting everyone work together to defeat the virus.
"I think that’s the important message. If we do stick together and do the things required of us, even if it’s hard, we can get through this together," Farkas said.
The goal of the book is not to scare kids, but instead, give parents a way to talk to their children about the dangers of COVID-19 in a safe setting they can best understand.
Reading to your children, Farkas says, is more important now than ever before, with kids not in school, or getting the same lessons they'd normally be receiving. Because of that, there are a number of local reading resources available online.
The Dauphin County and York County Library Systems have virtual learning programs available through its website. Franklin County's Sheriff Facebook page recently started a "Books and Badges" program where officers read children's books. The Lower Paxton Township Police page has been offering a similar storytime segment for children, where "Corporal Cookie" reads every day.