London teacher wins praise for children’s book on pandemic | Books

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised a primary school teacher who wrote a children’s book aimed at gently tackling the hesitation of the Covid-19 vaccine in the ethnic black and minority community and promoting children’s mental health .

Banji Alexander, who teaches at a south-east London school with large numbers of ethnic minority students and staff, has started writing Lockdown Looms: Reggie’s Birthday Party, a book detailing a child’s experience with the pandemic, during the second lockdown.

“I picked up the pen on paper right after Christmas 2020 and wrote the book between my third-year class’s online distance learning courses after the government’s decision to close the schools,” Alexander said.

“I needed a book that I could use to allay my learners’ fears about the pandemic. The world as we knew it was changing rapidly around us and children, parents and teachers found it difficult. “

The cover of Lockdown Looms: Reggie’s Birthday Party, by Banji Alexander. Photography : –

The story covers topics such as masks, social distancing, home schooling, vaccinations, bereavement, chaotic supermarket scenes and food shortages.

“I remember the kids in my class were disappointed that they couldn’t celebrate their birthdays the ‘normal’ way and they missed family members they couldn’t see due to the restrictions.” said Alexander, who lost his uncle during the pandemic, said.

Reggie, the seven-year-old protagonist, is fed up with home schooling and e-learning after a lockdown ends and can’t wait to celebrate his eighth birthday with family and friends amid new restrictions looming.

The goal was to write a book that would offer hope and benefit children’s mental health, said the author, who said he discussed the characters’ feelings with his students, teaching them vocabulary to express their feelings. own emotions more accurately.

“The book’s important messages are about kindness, resilience, patience, gratitude, and adapting to change. I want the reader to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel no matter how difficult things may seem. I hope the book will help children learn to manage their expectations and express their feelings better.

The book also addresses fears surrounding the Covid vaccine. “I am aware that the vaccination rate is considerably lower in certain demographics within the BAME community,” Alexander said.

“The subject of vaccinations is quite controversial, and for young children to see their adults feeling strong enough for a subject can be alarming and confusing, especially if their friend or the family of friends think otherwise.

“As an educator, it’s my job to dispel myths – if only by gently mentioning vaccinations, which are an integral part of the lockdown that ends up ending in my story.”

Sadiq Khan wrote to Alexander thanking him for his efforts to support his students during the pandemic. “Teachers like you have gone above and beyond to show care and commitment to your students. Your support has been so vital in ensuring that students are not only educated, but have the tools to develop their resilience, as we continue to adapt to extraordinary times, ”the Mayor wrote.


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