How does trauma, Covid‐19 trauma in particular, impact children’s development and emotional expression?
Children have experienced a lot of changes since COVID‐19 started. According to Borbas et al. (2021), children and families have
experienced physical and mental well‐being difficulties due to pandemics such as COVID‐19. Research by Duan et al. (2020),
showed that children’s and adolescents’ disclosures of psychosocial distress significantly increased during the COVID‐19
pandemic compared to data before the pandemic.
Some children have lost their loved ones; others have had family members fighting with the virus. Some children and their families
have been displaced from their homes or experienced homelessness and housing insecurities. Research by Duan et al. (2020), showed that
children in households that were experiencing greater economic difficulties experienced more psychological wellbeing issues.
Duan et al. (2020) also explained that the psychological effect from COVID‐19 has been higher for minority communities. They stated
that, “the distribution of any psychological toll associated with COVID-19, may be disproportionately experienced by children of
these communities, thus exacerbating inequalities in the negative health impacts of COVID-19.” (p.2)
Due to the COVID‐19 pandemic, there were a lot of changes for children to cope with. Everything shut down including schools,
libraries, parks and other places that supported children’s socioemotional wellbeing. This was a huge shock for children. According
to CDC (2021), “Disruptions in these routines and the sudden loss of usual caregivers due to the need to physically distance can be
traumatic for young children.” (papa.2) Moreover, according to Stanford Health 2020, 1 in 10 families experienced a decline in
mental health and deteriorating behavioral problems in children. According to Hanetz‐Gamliel (2021) these drastic modifications
significantly affected families, their routines and emotional wellbeing.
Children were also affected during the transition to online instruction due to various reasons including the lack of access to technology,
which affected their academic achievements and socioemotional wellbeing. According to UNICEF, At least 463 million children worldwide were
unable to access remote learning during COVID‐19 school closures in 2020.
Through all of this, children experienced significant social changes including an inability to play and Interact with other children,
socialize with their grandparents and relatives, practice their social skills and cope with their emotions. Borbas et al. (2021) stated
that, “for children and adolescents, positive peer‐relationships, the ability to pursue hobbies and educational opportunities
are affected.” (p.1)
Furthermore, research by Jiao et al. (2020) showed that children’s behavior and psychological wellbeing has been affected, additionally
stating that “Clinging, inattention, and irritability were the most severe psychological conditions demonstrated by the children in all
age groups.” (p.265) Children have experienced a lot of loss and difficulties since the COVID‐19 pandemic began. It is important
to understand how children were affected in order to create support systems for them and their families.
What roles can books and children’s literature play in helping children with COVID‐19 trauma and emotional expression?
As adults, these changes have drastically affected our socioemotional well being. How about children? It is important to understand how
children have been affected and to discuss the role of literacy in bringing healing, community, education and support.
It is vital to use literacy as a tool to help children understand their emotions, to process their trauma, loss, anxieties and fears. Bennett
et al. (2021) stated, “increased access to books can contribute to students’ reading and academic achievement.” (P.794)
During the COVID‐19 epidemic, these researchers created collaboration between a community organization and an educational institution
where they increased access to books for children in low socioeconomic communities. They found that, “access to multicultural books
offered children in this initiative a sense of connectedness to community and, importantly, affirmation of racial/cultural identity during
heightened global health and civil rights crises.” (Bennett et al. 2020, p.794)
The American Psychological Association posted an article, Books to Help Kids Cope with COVID‐19 in which they highlight the authors
Growe and Burch 2020 of the book “A Kids Guide to Coronavirus”, which helps children understand the pandemic and to help
children create coping strategies for mental well‐being. Since COVID‐19 started there are many picture books that discuss various
topics including: understanding what coronavirus is, coping with loss, anxiety, fears, social distancing, grieving and more. Children’s
books are such an important tool that can be used by caregivers and teachers to help children during this difficult time.
Zero to Thrive created a resource page “Helping Young Kids Through the Coronavirus (COVID‐19) Crisis” in which they explain
how COVID‐19 can affect children, what signs to look out for, how to help children cope and alternatives to social activities.
Furthermore, they provide a list of books that can help children navigate COVID‐19 and create coping strategies.