The Best Pandemic Picture Books: Read Alouds About Social Distancing, Wearing Masks, and Online Lear


Many things have changed during this pandemic. All of these changes can be especially scary for our students. Students are struggling to cope with staying home more often, social distancing from those they love, wearing a mask while in public, and online learning. One of the best things we can do to help our students adjust to these changes is to make sure we are having open and honest conversations about the changes they are experiencing in their lives. Our students need to know that its okay to struggle with these changes, and that many of their friends, and even their teacher may be struggling with these changes as well.

One of my favorite ways to start a discussion in my classroom is with a picture book read aloud. Picture books allow children to imagine themselves in the lives of the characters. Connecting with a character's experience can make it easier for students to talk about their own experiences. Many talented authors have already published some great picture books discussing topics that will be especially relevant for our students today such as: the viruses, proper hygiene, mask wearing, social distancing, staying home, and at home learning. Below, I have complied a list of my favorite books to use when talking to students about these difficult topics. Along with a short summary of each book, I have also included some suggested discussion questions/ topics for each title.

Books About Staying Connected While Social Distancing

While We Can't Hug by Eoin McLaughlin

Best friends Hedgehog and Tortoise are best friends. They are sad that they are not allowed to touch. They discover that there are a lot of ways to show love while staying apart.

Note: This book discusses singing a song as a possible way to show love & stay connected. You may want to skip this page If singing is not currently allowed at your school.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: Many kids are struggling with feeling lonely and disconnected from loved ones at this time. This book uses short, simple text to show that friends can share their love for each other even when they have to stay apart.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Why are we staying apart from our friends right now?

How can you show your friends that you care about them when you can't be close?

What is something someone has done to show they care about you?

How do you know your teacher cares about you?

If You Can't Bear Hug, Air Hug by Katie Sedmak

This fun book shares a different animal & social distancing greeting on each page (i.e. air hug instead of bear hug, flash grins instead of slap fins).

Note: Some of the greetings included in this book (i.e. singing, roaring) may not be appropriate for school. You may wish to have a discussion about using those greetings outside or school or skip these pages.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: I love the illustrations and happy feeling of this book. I also love that it helps students focus on what we CAN do to stay connected instead of things we CANNOT do.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Which greeting shared in the book was your favorite?

Which greeting are you going to use next time you see a friend?

Books About Wearing Masks

Smiling from Ear to Ear: Wearing Masks While Having Fun by Kaitlyn Chu

Each page of this book features a happy animal wearing a mask while going about their normal daily activities including school, grocery shopping, bus riding, and doctors office visits. The rhyming text has a nice rhythm that makes it perfect for a read aloud.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: I like that the animals in this book are shown wearing masks in a variety of everyday situations while still enjoying themselves.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Where have you worn a mask?

Can you still have fun while wearing a mask?

Its hard to see a smile when we wear a mask. How can you tell someone is happy when they have their mask on?

Let's Talk About Masks: A Children's Book and Conversation Starter for Parents by Sara Jo Walker

This is a great book for sparking a mask wearing conversation in your classroom. The book shares examples of different people who wear masks everyday (i.e. firefighters). Then, it shares that mommies, daddies, teachers and kids can also wear masks to keep themselves and others safe.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: This book uses real pictures of people wearing masks.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Who have you seen wearing a mask?

Why do we wear masks at school?

Where can we take our masks off?

The Love Behind The Mask by Lizy Toth

A young boy learns that wearing a mask is a way to show love for others by protecting them. He also learns that he can help keep others safe by social distancing, and washing his hands.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: The main character originally feels that masks are scary, but he learns that people are showing love by wearing masks to protect those around them.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Why do people wear masks?

Murphy Wears a Mask by Sherrell Campbell

Murphy the bear is worried that his friends will laugh at him for wearing a mask. Mommy bear explains why it is so important that we wear masks.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: This book has bright illustrations that will engage students.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Why didn't Murphy want to wear a mask?

What did Murphy learn about wearing masks?

My Teacher's Mask by Inga Puffer

Written by a teacher, this book let's students know that they don't need to feel afraid when they see their teacher wearing a mask. Underneath, their teacher is still smiling at them each day.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: The simple rhyming text makes this story perfect for a read aloud.

Possible Discussion Questions:

When someone wears a mask, we can't see their mouth smile or frown. How can we tell how someone is feeling while they are wearing a mask?

Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson

Lucy's mom is making her a mask. Lucy already has a mask she loves, this mask goes around her eyes. When she wears this mask, she imagines she is a detective, or a queen that saves her subjects from a dragon. Lucy's mom shows her the new mask that really will help her save others.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: This is a short, simple story with engaging illustrations. It doesn't give information about why we wear masks, but it does tel a cute story and show a little girl being excited to wear a mask.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Why does Lucy's new mask help to save the world?

Why is it important for all of us to wear a mask like Lucy?

Books About Germs & Good Hygiene

Germs Vs Soap by Didi Dragon

The germs spend their days trying to get onto kid's hands so they can hitch a ride to their eyes, nose, or mouth. Only one thing scares these germs --soap!

Note: The germs in this book occasionally use mild potty words such as "butt, toot"

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: The personified germs in this book can only be stopped by one thing, soap. This book will help kids will want to wash their hands to thwart the germ's plan to make them sick.

Possible Discussion Questions:

When should we wash our hands?

What can we do to get germs off of our hands?

Why should we avoid touching our faces?

Books About Online Learning

A Little Spot Learns Online by Diane Alber

Spot teaches kids everything they need to know to prepare for learning online.

Find it on Amazon here.

Why I Like It: This book is a great discussion starter for talking about your online learning proceedures and expectations.

Possible Discussion Questions:

How can we get ready for a day of virtual school?

How is virtual school the same as regular school? How is it different?

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