But Barber said children are resilient and can adapt to doing school at home and following rules about masks and social distancing. It’s important, though, for parents and teachers to use lessons that are simple and not tinged with adult fears about the serious health risks.
That’s why Barber published her first-ever illustrated children’s book, “School Coronavirus Do’s and Don’ts.” The book offers up important safety lessons in a humorous but comforting way with simple prose and Barber’s own fun and colorful drawings.
“Do wear a mask on your face,” reads one page with an illustration of a boy proudly wearing a mask.
“Don’t wear a mask on your elbows,” reads the next page, with the boy looking a little puzzled while, yes, wearing masks on his elbows.Other pages offer lessons on how to wash hands with soap and sanitizer for 20 seconds — not with macaroni and cheese “for 20 years.” And still another page offers children an important tip about doing a Zoom class: “Do mute yourself sometimes. Don’t mute your cat.”
“It breaks down safety measures in a silly way,” said Barber, who lives in San Jose and returned to teaching her second grade class at John Sinnott Elementary School in Milpitas in mid-August.
An elementary public school teacher for 20 years, Barber said she tried to simplify complicated health and education regulations regarding COVID-19 safety. The book is mainly geared to other elementary school teachers, but parents also may find it useful.
Barber self-published her book on Amazon; it costs $10 for a paperback edition and $3 for a Kindle download. She said she has long wanted to write a children’s book, and her San Jose home, filled with art project by both her and her 12-year-old daughter, attests to her creative bent.
Like many, Barber had to give up going on a summer vacation, so she doubled down on writing, drawing and learning how to publish her book. Multilingual friends, a former student and professional colleagues also helped translate the book into five other languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Vietnamese and Mandarin. Barber has heard about teachers in Malaysia and other countries purchasing it and using it classrooms.
The different linguistic versions of her book reflect the diversity of the children depicted in the book. Above all, the book is inspired by her diverse classroom of students. This year, her class of 23 includes 13 students whose first language is something other than English.
More than 40 people have given Barber’s book five stars on Amazon, and some of those reviewers are educators from around the United States. “I got this book in the mail today and it is simple, to the point, and a great starting point to address expectations for Pre-K-5th grade,” wrote an educator from Kentucky. “I can’t wait to share this book with my students.”