“Is this how it is going to be from now on?”
“No Suzie, it will get better. We just have to keep sticking together.”
That message of hope graces the end of “Why We Stay Home: Suzie Learns about Coronavirus,” an illustrated children’s book written by LLUSM students Samantha Harris (’22) and Devon Scott (’22). Since its release on April 23, the book has been downloaded more than 35,000 times.
The book helps children understand the coronavirus pandemic by discussing germs and concepts such as quarantine, social distancing, and how staying at home — even if you miss your friends — can help people who have “a hard time fighting off germs,” such as Grandma and Grandpa. Beautiful illustrations by Harriet Rodis bring Millie and Suzie, the story’s characters, to life.
“I noticed that there were very few resources to help kids understand the coronavirus,” Devon Scott said. “I wanted to create a fun yet scientifically-accurate book to teach these concepts to children 3 to 8 years of age.”
Devon, who plans on specializing in orthopedic surgery, shared the idea with his friend and fellow medical student Samantha Harris, who is pursuing pediatrics. She loved the concept, and they agreed to write the book together. Even though they’d never worked on a project like this before, Samantha and Devon wrote the book, commissioned illustrations, and published it on www.millieandsuzie.com, all within the span of two weeks. Knowing that traditional publishing routes may take months to release the book, Samantha and Devon chose to publish it themselves so that families could read it immediately. They also recognized that many are suffering financial hardship. By self-publishing, they could ensure that cost wouldn’t be a barrier.
As of this article’s writing, more than 35,000 copies have been downloaded from the book’s website and links to the story have been shared and liked thousands of times on social media. Videos on YouTube of people reading the book have been viewed more than 100,000 times. People in many countries around the world, including Brazil and Syria, have contacted the authors and asked for permission to translate the story into their native languages.
Reflecting on the book’s viral popularity, its coauthor Samantha Harris said, “When we initially talked about the book, we said it would be a ‘success’ if it reached 100 children. But obviously God had much bigger plans for this book.”
The book can be downloaded for free at www.millieandsuzie.com.
For updates on this book and the rest of the series, follow Millie and Suzie’s Instagram at www.instagram.com/millieandsuzie.