The front cover of “Coronavirus Heroes: Life During a Pandemic.” Courtesy of Nancy Randolph

“During these difficult times, caring for ourselves and others is our superpower,” writes a group of Bowdoin College students in a new children’s book aimed at teaching kids more about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coronavirus Heroes: Life During a Pandemic,” a book first assembled last fall, has since been published and distributed to various Brunswick elementary schools.

The story follows a girl named Charlie who, despite the difficulties of social isolation, remote classes and itchy face masks, learns from her mother how staying home in itself can be her superpower.

Bowdoin College students Emma Hahsey, Hikmah Okoya, Basmattie Dookie and Joanna Lin wrote a children’s book, Coronavirus Heroes: Life During a Pandemic. Courtesy of Nancy Randolph

The creators include Bowdoin College senior Hikmah Okoya of Newark, New Jersey, junior Emma Hahesy of Topsham, junior Joanna Lin of Los Angeles, California and senior Basmattie Dookie of Queens, New York.

All four coauthored the book, and Okoya and Lin took on the task of illustration.

“One big thing is acknowledging the emotional and mental health struggles that a lot of individuals are going through, especially children,” said Lin.

The idea for the book was sparked from an open-ended final project prompt for an interdisciplinary class at Bowdoin called Health, Culture, and Society, in which all four students were enrolled entirely remotely.

Lin added that, through research for the project and class discussion, the group discovered the important role easily understandable medical information plays in society and learned more about the struggles put on by COVID-19, specifically in younger demographics.

“Just reading it with like the teacher or a parent, it can help sort of jumpstart these conversations about how they’re feeling,” said Dookie.

All four students said that they had younger siblings, which partly inspired them to create the book.

After the fall semester ended and the students had returned to campus, the group applied and received a $500 grant through the college which ultimately allowed them to publish and print the book.

The group then got in touch with Just Write Books LLC Publisher Nancy Randolph who offered to help guide the students for free through the process of publication and editing.

“It was so easy with these students,” Randolph said. “They would get to the resolution so fast and so that was really good.”

Randolph also helped the students create a publishing house, a necessary component to publish the book, which is named “Bear Bud Books.”

The group had 69 copies made, a majority of which were donated to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Kate Furbish elementary schools.

According to Bowdoin College Associate Professor of History David Hecht, who taught the health, culture and society course, the interdisciplinary course attracts a wide range of students with different majors.

Hecht said the learning outcomes of the class are to expose students to ways of looking at health culture in society from outside their respective disciplines and to have students take something that they’ve learned and make that information more accessible to a broader audience.

Other project examples included a podcast, creative writing and outlined curriculums. Hecht said that a children’s book was a new idea that had not yet been done in the class.

Going forward, the group is in the process of applying for additional funds to get another shipment of books and looking for new ways to distribute it.

The book is available for free via the group’s website and is listed on Amazon where all the proceeds will go to purchasing more books to donate.


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