It's tough enough for adults to understand how Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work and even breathe – so imagine how hard it is for children to wrap their heads around things.
This is why former Miss South Africa Ntandoyenkosi Kunene and her long-time friend, Thokozane Dyosini, have written a children’s book that explains the novel coronavirus.
The book, titled Cory in the Universe, centres around young heroes who use superpowers to combat Covid-19, while helping kids understand what’s happening around them in a way that makes sense to them.
“Children’s lives have been altered during the pandemic as well,” Ntando tells YOU.
“They were used to going to school and
being outside and playing. Their social life is quite important for them and
not having that for quite a long time has its own effects. We tried to pen down
a lot of things we’ve seen children go through,” she says.
It was important for the authors to tell the story through the eyes of South African children says Thokozane, adding the book also features President Cyril Ramaphosa as a key character.
“The president was one person we saw on a regular basis. We took some of what he’d said on TV and talk about his feelings in the book,” she says.
Ntando, who holds an honours degree in curriculum studies, has always been passionate about child literacy. When the country went into lockdown in March, she and Thokozane, a PhD candidate and lecturer who she met while they were students at the University of Witwatersrand, would often talk about the effects of the pandemic.
One of the topics that came up was the
death of a loved one. “I lost an aunt to Covid-19,” Ntando says. “I had people close to me that contracted it
as well, and it was a very scary time for me as well – so imagine how it was
The book offers practical advice on how to broach the topic of death, she adds.
“When we speak about loss, it’s a nice conversation starter between the reader and the teacher or the guardian to start the conversation about how children experience those feelings and how as an adult you can help them better navigate this situation because often parents don't know how to tackle children’s grief,” she says.
“It’s like an open door for them to expand on this topic.”
- Cory in the Universe will be available in all 11 official languages.