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UB medical students write book to explain COVID-19 to children

The story is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two University at Buffalo medical students have found a way to explain coronavirus to children in a clear, and colorful way.

The story, called "Berry Bunny Learns About COVID-19," is full of illustrations and activities. So far, it has received more than 750 visits from people in 36 states and 16 countries. 

The authors, Natalie Tjota and Sara Xu are third-year students in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Their story is available in English, Spanish and Chinese versions. The translations are provided by the authors' friends and classmates Kaity Tung and Hillary Jaramillo.

"During a video chat I was having with my two nephews back in March, with COVID-19 clearly becoming something that would be affecting all of our lives in one way or another, I wondered how much they knew about the virus," Tjota says of her nephews, who are ages 4 and 7. "I started to think about how they and other children their age were learning about and coping with changes brought by coronavirus."

Tjota says she drew from prior experiences while developing the book. 

“We are very fortunate to have creative and caring students who are willing to help educate young students in such a complicated subject,” says David Milling, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs in the Jacobs School. “Their effort to teach younger students about the topic of this virus also shows who Natalie and Sara are as medical students and who they will be as physicians.” 

Sara Xu says while making the book, she thought about the books she has read, where many authors choose animals to tell their story. She says it's one way for younger readers to more easily see themselves in the role of the characters.

“I also think that this is a difficult topic for everyone to understand ─ not just kids but adults as well. And our story format, not being text-heavy, with illustrations, could work well as a teaching tool for everyone about coronavirus. Berry Bunny is a friendly story, but I also see it as a truthful source of information,” Xu said.    

To read the story, click here.

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