"Brandon's Mask" tells the story of a young boy from New York City, one of the hardest-hit places by the coronavirus, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, to which children will be able to relate. He is no longer able to do what he most loved to do outside when everyone around him begins to wear masks. This book is not one with technical concepts about the coronavirus. Instead, through its colorful illustrations, it is meant to engage young children and help them identify with the emotions experienced by Brandon during this time.
Many parents with littles continue to struggle to help their children adapt to wearing a mask in public, and I hope that Brandon's story can ease this new normality even if it is temporary. Having to wear masks, however, is only one of the ways Covid-19 has changed our world. These changes have had many social-emotional effects on children. Their routines have changed, their communities are adopting new guidelines, they are not socializing like they used to, and their schools have suddenly closed. As schools prepare to reopen, they face the challenge of supporting children and families with the socio-emotional trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Brandon's story lets readers connect with his experiences and reassures the idea that it is okay to have a range of emotions about the changes that have occurred in the last months. This story facilitates such dialogue and can pave the way to enforce coping skills. As a bilingual and bicultural family, I wrote the book in English and Spanish to reach a greater community. Compared to other groups, people of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. And this is yet another reason that it is imperative to have more bilingual/multicultural books and others that represent people of color. I believe that progress and awareness can come in the form of representation of families like mine in literature, and in other types of media. Finally, I hope this story encourages children to share their COVID-19 stories, experiences, and hopes for a better future.