FEVER, FLU, AND FEAR

September 16, 2021

You cannot go to the grocery store, turn on the television, computer, or smart phone without noticing that the world, as we knew it, has changed.

In April, I posted the article, “Sweet Dreams, Sally,” in which I included a chart listing 161 children’s books about the necessity of wearing masks. The list wasn’t a complete list. Frankly, I just got tired! The message was crystal clear that everyone needed to wear masks. Since the books for the young non-readers were often read to the children by adults or older siblings, that group also absorbed this message. No thought to the contrary would be entertained. All children would happily mask up for the greater good.

Those who questioned this began posting the picture on the side of the box of masks:                                    

This product is an ear loop mask. This product is not a respirator and will not provide any protection against COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or other viruses or contaminants.

Wearing an ear loop mask does not reduce the risk of contracting any disease or infection. User is safely responsible for the selection of appropriate personal protective equipment for the setting and application. Change immediately if contaminated.

Quickly, Politifact fact-checked this to let everyone know that the label was legitimate, but people were misinterpreting it. It’s fascinating how these fact-checkers responded—"a warning label that appears to be on the side of a box of disposable surgical masks . . .” Appears to be? Is it or isn’t it?

Politifact continues:

The photo appears to be legitimate. But the words on the label are being misinterpreted as evidence to suggest that masks are not effective.

But that’s not what this photo shows. This is a misunderstanding about the kind of protection standard masks provide and a misreading of the disclaimer, which isn’t saying the masks are ineffective at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Pardon my ignorance and need for an interpreter. The small print on the box doesn’t say that the masks are effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19, either. It states that "it does not reduce the risk." It also doesn’t say the masks are or are not a fashion statement, a badge of honor, or proof of good citizenship.

Parents in Florida sent their children’s masks to a lab at the University of Florida for analysis. The results were startling. Of course, those results were quickly fact-checked to announce that this, too, was a myth. 

Parents complain about Critical Race Theory being taught in schools all over this country. They bring up numerous examples when speaking before their local school boards. The answer to the parents’ concerns is that, despite the evidence to the contrary, the school is not teaching Critical Race theory. Some, however, actually do admit that they are teaching these things and are proud to do so. They accuse the parents of being racists for objecting to it.   
   
Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist known for his Bloom’s Taxonomy, wrote in his book, All Our Children Learning: A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and other Educators:

The purpose of education and the schools is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students. … The curriculum may be thought of as a plan for changing student behavior and as the actual set of learning experiences in which students, teachers, and materials interact to produce the changes in students.

Who knew? Are we now living in such a time that our thoughts, feelings, and actions are directed and controlled by some wizard behind the curtain? Is there no room for more than one perspective? Are facts irrelevant?

Advertising campaigns, news and social media, music, school curricula, books, etc., shape the thinking of many. Children are more malleable and are more easily swayed. Still, those thoughts, feelings, and actions are not changed overnight. It is systematic. Line upon line, precept upon precept. This is the reason children are put into the system at earlier and earlier ages.

I have been curious about children’s books that address diseases, pandemics, and more specifically, COVID-19. I found so many books on the subject that I decided to chart only the selections found on the Accelerated Reader website.

The 22 books on the first chart are for Lower Grades (K-3) and Middle Grades (4-8) and range from a 2.7 to a 6.4 reading level. All but two of these books were published in 2021. Each book consists of 24, 32, 48, or 49 pages. The Word Count range is from 263 to 5,268. To put this in perspective—Margret Rey’s Curious George Plays Baseball has 299 words and Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop has 384. Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House Book, The Knight at Dawn, has 5,340 words.

With such a limited number of words—7 of the books charted have fewer words than Hop on Pop—how much information can be covered? Some or all the following would be mentioned--social distancing, flattening the curve, mask wearing, washing hands, how viruses spread, and perhaps some facts about previous epidemics or pandemics.

If your children read these books or listen as someone reads the books to them, what will be their take away? Is the information factual and/or does it instill fear? How much immersion in this is necessary and how much is too much? Who should be determining this—the state or the parent?

Accelerated Reader is used in many schools, both private and public. Children receive points for reaching a certain percentage on the online multiple-choice tests. Children assigned to do projects or reports on COVID-19 would most likely use these sources since they could also take the online test and earn points simultaneously.

The inclusion of titles on this chart does not mean that these books are good or bad, correct or incorrect. They are simply books found on this subject on Accelerated Reader which anyone can easily access. Ask yourself some questions as you are the one who knows your children best. Would it be important for your children to read one or many of these, or would it be better if they read books that had nothing to do with this? Do your children need to be focused on this issue, or would time be better spent learning how to read, write, and do their arithmetic? Would concentrating on learning their basic skills or reading different books help alleviate the constant rhetoric that is possibly causing their fear or anxiety?

Obviously, there is a great deal of fear created because Social Emotional Learning is now being presented as the necessary cure to alleviate this fear. This has spawned the creation of even more books for children. As Rahm Emanuel once said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste." 

The children also sense this fear from the adults in their lives. After all, the adults are terrified to have any thoughts that are not in alignment with the fact checkers. The children also fear that they may kill Grandma or Grandpa if they don’t wear their masks properly or wash their hands for the proper number of seconds.

Adding fuel to the fire, children are being taught to hate in the name of diversity. Perhaps it is about skin color, whether boys can become girls, whether someone does or does not wear a mask, or whether those 12 or older have been vaccinated the mandated number of times. The child has learned early that there is only one viewpoint allowed. If their parents are not in agreement with the position the child is learning in school, the child becomes more conflicted.

Learning that everyone has to have the same thoughts and feelings and act accordingly hardly fits under the “diversity” umbrella. At what point did we begin accepting that the meaning of diversity is actually sameness?

(article continues after this chart)

COVID-19/Corona Virus:

Title

Author

Publisher

Grade

Subject

Pages/
Words

Date

Financial Free Fall: The COVID-19 Economic Crisis

Marie Bender

ABDO Publishing

MG 5.6

“measures taken to combat COVID-19, such as lock-downs and the closing of businesses, and describes how these actions impacted the economy.”AR

32/
2485

2021

Healthcare Heroes: Medical Workers Take On COVID-19

Rachael L. Thomas

Abdo Publishing

MG 5.4

COVID-19
effecting health-care workers

32/
2364

2021

Invisible Invasion: The COVID-19 Pandemic Begins

Marie Bender

Abdo Publishing

MG 5.6

COVID-19

32/
2470

2021

COVID-19 Pandemic

Kenny Abdo

Abdo Zoom

MG
4.0

COVID-19

24/
350

2021

Living Apart, Together: American Life During COVID-19

Marie Bender

Abdo Publishing

MG 5.2

COVID-19

32/
2723

2021

A New Normal: Life after COVID-19

Rachael L. Thomas

Abdo Publishing

MG 5.5

COVID-19

32/
2554

2021

The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Coronavirus Timeline

Matt Doeden

Lerner Publishing Group

MG
6.4

COVID-19

48/
5268

2021

Leaders Take Charge: Guiding the Nation through COVID-19

Rachael L. Thomas

Abdo Publishing

MG
5.5

COVID-19

32/
2378

2021

Distance Learning

Julie Murray

Abdo Kids

LG 3.3

“what a pandemic is and why it's causing students to learn from home.” AR

24/
301

2021

Staying Safe with Healthy Habits

Julie Murray

Abdo Kids

LG 2.7

Explains what a corona virus is

24/
313

2021

STEM and COVID-19

Grace Hansen

Abdo Kids

LG
3.3

COVID-19 vaccine and antibody therapy

24/
297

 

2021

The COVID-19 Virus

Grace Hansen

Abdo Kids

LG
2.9

COVID-19;
how it spreads and how you can keep from spreading it

24/
348

2021

What Is a Pandemic?

Kara L. Laughlin

Child's World

LG 4.2

Explains a pandemic

24/
973

2021

What is COVID-19?

Sara Latta

Child’s World

LG 4.1

COVID-19

24/
1273

2021

How Can I Help During COVID-19?

Emily Dolbear

Child’s World

LG 3.9

Ways for children to “slow the spread”

24/
1228

2021

Who Are the COVID-19 Helpers?

Sara Latta

Child’s World

LG 4.3

COVID-19

24/
1224

2021

Heroes of COVID-19

Grace Hansen

Abdo Kids

LG 2.9

COVID-19

24/
263

2021

How Has COVID-19 Changed Our World?

Kara L. Laughlin

Child’s World

LG
3.8

COVID-19

24/
912

 

2021

What If I'm Worried about COVID-19?

Emily Dolbear

Child’s World

LG
3.9

COVID-19;
ways to deal with anxiety

24/
1217

2021

Staying Connected While Social Distancing

Grace Hansen

Abdo Kids

LG
2.9

COVID-19; social distancing and “flattening the curve”

24/
330

2021

COVID-19: What Can Kids Do?

Nicomama

World Book Inc.

MG 5.0

COVID-19: what kids can do to fight the disease

49/
2315

2020

Be a Virus Warrior! A Kid's Guide to Keeping Safe

Eloise
Macgregor

Rosen Publishing Group

LG
3.5

how to keep safe from getting viruses

24/

978

2020

A quick trip to Amazon or YouTube will reveal numerous other books for the very young about this subject. Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter (also on AR), Rona Stole My Fun!: The Four Year Old Vs The Virus, When Virona the Corona Came to Town, Corona Super Kids, My Corona Story, Mighty Matty Conquers Corona, Achoo! The Day Corona came to visit, A Coronavirus Christmas: The Spirit of Christmas Will Always Shine Through, The Corona Monster, Corona Capes, Goodbye Corona, and Ramona Corona are just a few.

Attitudes and ideas are not shaped overnight. Understanding that premise, I searched for children’s books about epidemics or pandemics prior to COVID-19. Once again, I am only charting the books I found on the Accelerated Reader website. Almost all the books on the following charts were originally published prior to COVID-19.

The books on these charts include both fiction and non-fiction books. Were some of these books written at the suggestion of publishers or were they just products of creative minds?

I read Albert Marrin’s Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Marrin was a history professor and has written many non-fiction books for young adults. Marrin's book was published in January of 2018. Marrin’s book is thoroughly researched and includes an extensive list of books and articles for further reading. It was quite timely that Marrin included a section about Dr. Ron Fouchier, a virologist, and his gain-of-function research. The subheading reads: “Engineering Doomsday.” Seldom is a topic as simple and straightforward as we have been led to believe. Marrin broadens the scope of this pandemic for a young adult audience. He probably hopes that the readers will utilize the various sources for further study that he included to come to their own conclusions. His depictions of war are brutally honest. If your child is reading this in school, the teacher could lead the children to conclusions that are not those of your own family.

I also read Jim Murphy’s An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Since no one really knew what caused the fever, doctors had different methods of treating patients. One of these methods included ingesting mercury! The actions of political leaders in our newly formed government, blacks caring for white patients, and even the decision as to whether the United States should come to the aid of the French in their own revolution are all subjects addressed in this book. Accelerated Reader includes this book for Upper Grades (9th-12th) and lists it at a 9.0 reading level. Both the publisher’s website and Amazon list this book for children from 10-12 in grades 5 to 7.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 is a 7th grade selection in the Wit and Wisdom in Sync™ Core Text Library. I am unaware of other curriculums, if any, that require the reading of this book. All of the aforementioned subjects listed in this book could be handled differently by teachers leading the discussions. Children today are taught to think very highly of their own feelings and opinions. Discussions often become a free-for-all of these opinions which, eerily, are usually about the same. Facts don't have to come into play in these discussions. If or when they do, the class is usually persuaded by the emotional arguments.

An example of this would Lily & Dunkin', by Donna Gephart. Tim is in eighth grade and wants to take hormone blockers to delay puberty. This is a basic theme of this book. Poor Tim! His father objects to this, at first. He changed his mind when the therapist asked him if he "would rather have a dead son or a live daughter?" One of the discussion questions reads: “Why is it best that she begin the hormone therapy now?” After the children ages ten and up read this book, how do you think they will respond?

These are some questions a parent should consider about books in general: 

  • If the child is reading the book on his/her own, what is the take-away? Is that take-away formed by factual or emotional persuasion? Is the book objective?          
  • Are there links or resources included in the book that could be harmful? (One book I found in the juvenile section of a library had links to Kinsey Confidential, San Francisco Sex Information, Advocates for Youth, Go Ask Alice!, Scarleteen, Planned Parenthood, many LGBT resources, and adult books about sexual issues such as stories about transgender females to males. When the children venture to these websites, they discover other links that may well lead them to porn sites. One of the resource links from this book gives quite an education about beastiality.)
  • If the book is required, is it being discussed by the teacher? Is the information being slanted to a particular worldview?  
  • What about climate change or global warming? What about BLM? What about Critical Race Theory? How are Christians portrayed? How are other religions depicted? How was Trump addressed in books for kids? Biden? Obama? Fauci? (Kate Messner’s book, Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America's Doctor, was released in June of 2021.) Who is God in children’s books? What about social activism? How is America represented? Capitalism? Marxism?
  • What are the themes and messages in the books being prominently displayed in the children’s sections of the public libraries? Are these same books found in Christian school libraries?       
  • Why are high school students being assigned books that are written on such low reading levels?
  • Are the children assigned multiple books with the same message? How many does it take to change a worldview?

These are just a few of the questions a parent needs to consider.

The books on the following charts are about the different epidemics and pandemics in history. These may all be wonderful books that you choose to add to your child’s library. The only way of finding out, though, is by looking Between the Covers.

1918 Flu Epidemic:

Title

Author

Publisher

Grade
Level

Subject

Pages/
Words

Date

Fever Year: The Killer Flu of 1918

Don Brown

Clarion Books

(an imprint of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

MG+

6.7

1918 flu

96/
5857

9/3/2019

Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Albert Marrin

Knopf

UG
8.3

1918 flu

198/
43,905

1/9/2018

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade: A Thanksgiving Story

Trinka Hakes Noble

Sleeping Bear Press

LG 4.3

1918 flu

32/
1515

2017

The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Core Events of a Worldwide Outbreak

John Miklos, Jr.

Capstone/Capstone Press

MG 5.7

1918 flu

32/
3125

2015

The Flu Pandemic of 1918

Kristin
Marciniak

Abdo Publishing

MG 5.9

1918 flu

48/
3665

2014

A Death-Struck Year (M)

Makiia Lucier

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

UG
4.5

1918 flu

282/
59,182

2014

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Cat Winters

Amulet Books

UG
5.3

1918 flu

387/
85,948

2013

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

Katherine
Krohn

Capstone/Capstone Press

MG 4.6

1918 flu

32/
2147

2008

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Stephanie True Peters

Marshall Cavendish Benchmark

MG 8.2

1918 flu

70/
13,732

2005

Yellow Fever:

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

Jim Murphy

Clarion Books; Annotated edition

UG

9.0

Yellow Fever

176/
29,029

6/23/2003

Yellow Fever

Holly Cefrey

Rosen Publishing Group

UG

8.6

Yellow Fever

64/
7371

2002

Fever, 1793

Laurie Halse Anderson

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

UG
4.4

Yellow fever epidemic

251/
51,076

9/1/2000

Path of the Pale Horse

Paul Fleisch-man

Harper & Row

MG 6.3

Yellow fever

144/
29,238

1983

General:

Title

Author

Publisher

Grade

Subject

Pages

Date

Disease

John Wood

Gareth Stevens Publishing

MG 5.9

Deadly diseases throughout history

32

2020

Global Pandemic

Allan Morey

Bellwether Media, Inc.

MG 4.1

“This book explores what the world would be like after a global pandemic.”AR

24

2020
orig. publ. Aug. 2019

Engineering Solutions for Epidemics and Pandemics

Kara Rogers

Rosen Central

MG
7.8

“This book explores epidemic and pandemic threats and approaches to disease detection, prevention, and surveillance, relating them to concepts that lie at the foundation of STEM education.”AR

48

2020

(orig. publ. Dec. 2019)

The 12 Worst Health Disasters of All Time

Susan E. Hamen

12-Story Library

MG 5.2

“provides facts and tips on how to stay safe during an outbreak or epidemic.”AR

32

1/15/ 2019

Deception

Teri Terry

Charlesbridge Publishing

MG 4.8

Fictional deadly disease

358

2019
(orig. 2/8/
2018

Give the Dark My Love

Beth Revis

Razorbill

MG+ 5.5

Fictional plague

351

2018

This Cruel Design

Emily Suvada

Simon Pulse

UG 5.5

Fictional virus/vaccine

394

2018

This Mortal Coil

Emily Suvada

Simon Pulse

UG 5.4

Fictional
virus/vaccine

424

2017

The Zika Virus

Sue Bradford Edwards

Abdo Publishing

MG+ 8.1

Zika virus

112

2017

Last Star Burning

Caitlin Sangster

Simon Pulse

MG+
5.6

Dystopian novel about a plague

392

2017

Plague: The Black Death

Janey Levy

Gareth Stevens Publishing

MG 6.8

The Black Death

32

2016

Tracking an Epidemic

Tamra B. Orr

Cherry Lake Publishing

MG 5.2

“using the scientific method to find out what happens during the spread of an epidemic.” AR

32

2014

A World After...
Super-Plague

Anne Rooney

Capstone/
Heinemann-Raintree

MG+ 7.5

“Readers learn what our lives would be like after an outbreak of super-plague, based on scenarios from fact and fiction.” AR

56

2014

The Here and Now

Ann Brashares

Delacorte Press

UG 4.5

Fictional futuristic pandemic

242

2014

Sisters' Fate

Jessica Spotswood

Putnam

UG 4.9

Fictional epidemic

360

2014

A Matter of Days

Amber Kizer

Delacorte Press

UG 4.3

Futuristic global pandemic

276

2013

Pandemics

Kevin Cun-ningham

Children’s Press

MG
6.4

Pandemics throughout history; how they spread and are contained

48

2012

A Sea of Sorrows: The Typhus Epidemic Diary of Johanna Leary

Norah McClintock

Scholastic Canada Ltd.

MG 5.6

Potato famine

170

2012

Anatomy of a Pandemic

Amber J. Keyser

Capstone/Capstone Press

MG
6.4

Causes and what scientists are doing to stop pandemics

48

2011

Outbreak! The Science of Pandemics

Darlene R. Stille

Capstone/Com-pass Point Books

MG 7.7

Explains science behind pandemics

48

2011

Pandemics

 

Robert Green

Cherry Lake Publishing

MG
7.4

Pandemics and what can be done

32

2008

Pandemics

World Book Editors

World Book Inc.

MG 8.8

Past pandemics

48

2008

Pandemics

Debra A. Miller

Lucent

UG
11.9

Previous pandemics, fighting them, and future pandemic threats

104

2007

Orig. 2006

Pandemics: Epidemics in a Shrinking World

Miriam Segall

Rosen Publishing Group

MG 10.6

Past pandemics,
emerging diseases, treatments

64

2007

Plague and Pandemic Alert!

Julie Karner

Crabtree Publishing Company

MG 8.0

A study of plagues

32

2005

Epidemic

Brian Ward

DK (Dorling Kindersley)

MG 8.1

Previous epidemics

64

2000

Note: Sometimes the publishing date listed on the Accelerated Reader site is not the original publishing date.

Deborah DeGroff
whatsinsidechildrensbooks.com
Between the Covers: What's Inside a Children's Book

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