‘Who is Corona?’: Sheikha Shamma pens story to explain the coronavirus pandemic to children

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa has written a children’s eBook to help the younger generation understand more about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Who is Corona? The Story of a Virus that Stopped the World is released today, with the aim of explaining the pandemic and the affect it has had around the globe to young readers.

Available to read and download for free in both English and Arabic on the Wanna Read? website, the story is written, in part, from the perspective of the virus.

The story is partly written from the perspective of the coronavirus. Courtesy Wanna Read?

It covers a range of topics, including self-isolation and homeschooling, ways to prevent the spread of the virus and the strength of nature, and also looks forward to a world without Covid-19. It also touches on the important role that children play in the fight against the virus.

“As safety restrictions were put in place over the past couple of months, frustration among younger family members stemmed from boredom and not understanding why they cannot see their friends, go to school or play outside,” Sheikha Shamma, the great-granddaughter of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, told The National of her inspiration for writing the book.

I hope this book captures the imagination of children, teaches them to act responsibly and inspires them to showcase their own creativity –Sheikha Shamma bint 

Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan

“It was important to me that, through the story of Who is Corona?, children could see why these rules were put in place, and that by working together, we would be able to collectively fight the pandemic,” she says.

“I also wanted to show them that although this has been a difficult time for us, Mother Nature has been hard at work healing the planet and that we should continue to adopt good practices that support this. And, finally, my aim was to give children hope and encourage them to use this period of isolation to keep learning and creating.”

As well as entertaining and heartwarming, Who is Corona? is an educational read, something Sheikha Shamma set out to achieve, to “help children find comfort in understanding the situation unfolding around them”.

“This is a difficult time for everyone, and especially for parents who are trying to rationalise and navigate these unforeseen circumstances while reassuring their children,” Sheikha Shamma, founder and chief executive of Alliances for Global Sustainability and founder of Circle of Hope Foundation, says.

The story is illustrated by Italian artist Andrea Lucci. Courtesy Wanna Read?

“My hope is that this book, through the story and fun illustrations, will capture the imagination of children, teach them to act responsibly and inspire them to showcase their own creativity during the quarantine period.”

The story has been illustrated by Italian artist Andrea Lucci, whose style, Sheikha Shamma says, “brings Who is Corona? to life”.

And it is no coincidence that the story has been illustrated by an artist from Italy, a country that was severely affected by the pandemic.

“My team and I reached out to Andrea and he was immediately interested in the project, especially given the importance of the topic and the severity of Covid-19 in Italy, where he lives,” she says. “This has been a fantastic partnership and I hope we get the opportunity to collaborate again in the future.”

The book officially launches on wannaread.ae today, Monday, June 1. Wanna Read? is a non-profit organisation that “creates warm, friendly and stimulating environments that promote reading and learning in hospitals across the UAE, to help children through their healing and rehabilitation”.

The story is free to download, but members of the community can make donations to support the cause.

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