Pediatrician Writes Book to Explain COVID-19 to Children

Pediatrician hopes book will help children better understand the virus

I am continually impressed by the breadth of creativity and caring shown by pediatricians. Never has it been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deborah Rotenstein, MD, a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist, has written a book to explain the coronavirus to young children. She wrote it in March to explain to her granddaughter, then 3 ½ years old, why she could not travel to Israel to visit her.

Dr. Deborah Rotenstein“When I was there in January, I had promised my granddaughter that I would be back for Passover and the birth of her sister,” Dr. Rotenstein says. “Then COVID hit, and it’s really hard to explain to young children what’s going on. So I wrote this for her and other children, because children need to understand what’s going on, too.”

Dr. Rotenstein worked with a student illustrator, Rose Lauer, to create the book, which can be downloaded from the “Because of the Coronavirus” Facebook page. Or you can view the book as Dr. Rotenstein reads it.

“The virus is a hard concept for children to understand, and children need reassurance,” she says. “The book ends on a somewhat positive note to help with that.”

Dr. Rotenstein has used the book in her practice at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, PA, and encourages parents to use it as a “jumping off point” for conversations about the virus with their children.  

“They deserve to understand as much as they can about it,” Dr. Rotenstein says.

She hopes other pediatricians will find it useful for their patients and their patients’ parents.

“I am a pediatric endocrinologist, but even when you become a subspecialist, you’re always a [general] pediatrician at heart, so I felt compelled to do this,” Dr. Rotenstein says. “My granddaughter loves it, and if it helps ease the way for anybody, that’s really all myself and the illustrator, Rose, wanted.”

About the Author

Keith J. Mann, MD, MEd

Keith J. Mann, MD, MEd, is Vice President for Continuing Certification at the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). As lead of continuing certification (also known as Maintenance of Certification or MOC), his focus is on evolving the program to be increasingly relevant and valuable for pediatricians while upholding the high standards of being a certified pediatrician or pediatric subspecialist. He provides expertise in education, health care quality, and patient safety. Before joining the ABP leadership in 2018, he volunteered on various ABP committees for 15 years. He is certified in general pediatrics and is maintaining his certification.