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Olympia doctor writes book to explain COVID-19 to kids

When Dr. Darien Heap couldn't find a children's book about the novel coronavirus, he wrote one.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Darien Heap and his 4 year old son Kiren have been spending a lot of time together during the Covid-19 pandemic. Kiren is looking for crabs hiding under rocks. His father, a gastroenterologist, is looking for ways to explain all the changes at home.

“My wife is a critical care physician,” says Heap. “She was up in Puyallup and looking after a lot of the patients with Covid so when she came home she was changing in the garage, and then when she came out she had masks and gloves on. So things got pretty strange in this house pretty quickly.”

His curious son began asking questions like: What's the Coronavirus? Why is mom wearing gloves in the house? Why does she have a mask on?

“I looked on Google and looked on Amazon and I couldn't find a children's book for the coronavirus,” says Heap.

Following the advice of friends, Heap teamed up with Tacoma illustrator Corey Macourek to self-publish a book called “When Will We Play Again?”

It’s written from the point of view of a child Kiren’s age.

“He is going through the book seeing how the Coronavirus has changed his life,” says Heap. “The social distancing. All the familiar places that we used to go on the weekends that are closed. Can't see love ones in nursing homes.”

Credit: Darien Heap
When Will We Play Again tells the story of the Coronavirus from a child's point of view

Heap is getting offers to translate the book from all over the world.

“What started as a little tiny book for my son people all over the world want for their children and so it's very exciting,” he says.

There are lessons about hand washing and wearing masks. And not all of the lessons are just for children.

“It also reminds us that even though we've been on lock-down and we've all been socially isolating we are still making memories together,” says Heap. “Life hasn't gone on hold. We have a lot of extra free time together with families and we need to take advantage of that.”

“When Will We Play Again” is scheduled to publish in late June or July. It will also be available online. See the book's website for more details.

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