Making mask-wearing a privilege your child wants

Book cover of "Heroes Wear Masks."

“Heroes Wear Masks: Elmo’s Super Adventure” by Lillian Jane, pictures by Ernie Kwait

c.2020, Sourcebooks $7.99 / $9.99

Canada 40 pages

Peek-a-boo!

You played that game back when you were too little to even remember. Hide your eyes, move your hands, and BOO! These days, though, it’s a different kind of game with different rules. In “Heroes Wear Masks: Elmo’s Super Adventure” by Lillian Jane, pictures by Ernie Kwiat, there’s no BOO! to it.

The minute Elmo woke up this morning, he was “super excited… and super nervous!” He put his hands over his tummy and took a slow, deep breath. Today was the day he went to school and there was lots to remember!

He washed up and ate a good breakfast while Mommy let Elmo know what might happen at school. He might have his temperature taken, but it won’t hurt. He’ll need to wear his mask, to keep his mouth and nose covered. He’ll want to remember not to touch his mouth or eyes or nose after he’s washed up. And he’ll have to stay a safe distance from his friends in school and on the playground.

That’s a lot to remember. One more deep breath. That makes Elmo feel better.

He had a fancy new face mask to wear, and that was exciting! Masks should be clean and just the right size – not to big, not too small. Elmo doesn’t have to wear his mask at home while he plays inside. He wears it whenever he goes anywhere else, though. He wears his mask in school, on the bus, walking around, on the playground, in gym class, and at the grocery store. And he won’t be alone when he does it: Elmo’s classmates will be wearing masks. His teachers will have them, too. Mommy says that Super Grover even wears a mask, and that makes Elmo want to wear his everywhere.

Just before he gets on the bus, Elmo gives Mommy a hug and kiss and that’s okay; with his friends, he can only wave. And when he gets home, he’ll wash his hands and tell Mommy about his exciting day.

As an adult, it can be hard to wrap your head around the “new normal” of masking wherever you go. Your child may seem more resilient and willing to mask up everywhere – or they may need this book.

“Heroes Wear Masks” is everything you expect a Sesame Street-based book to be: simple but gently persuasive, slightly repetitive, instructional without seeming so, and full of characters your kids already love. Author Lillian Jane takes the big deal out of mask-wearing, instead making it seem like a privilege your child will want. For a parent who’s tired of fighting the issue, that’s a benefit; another plus is that hand-washing is likewise stressed in this story and it’s also done without fuss.

While three-year-olds can surely enjoy the Elmo they adore, this is really a better book for kids ages 4 to 7, especially if school is an on-again, off-again thing in your area. Hide your nose, hide your mouth, and “Heroes Wear Masks” is a book you’ll want to peek at.

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