By Davina Hyde, Local Democracy Reporter
A school teacher has published his first children’s book aimed at promoting vaccine uptake in the BAME community, and to allay the fears and worries of the class he teaches.
Banji Alexander was inspired to write his book, “Lockdown Looms: Reggie’s Birthday Party”, because of the effect of the pandemic.
While he was struggling with the loss of his uncle, he saw that children were struggling with bereavements of their own.
Parents were also juggling managing working from home, helping their children to facilitate their homeschooling, and the chaos at supermarkets and food shortages.
Mr Alexander, a teacher at an inner-city South London school, said: “I didn’t have a book that I could use to walk my learners through the Covid-19 pandemic and the strange new world around us: masks, social distancing, homeschooling, vaccinations, bereavements etc.
“With all the laws and social distancing rules which were in place, several children had to be kept away from family members for prolonged periods.
“Special celebrations such as birthdays and religious festivals were markedly different.
“When I started writing the book, I knew that I wanted to point to light at the end of the tunnel – a different type of happy ending which would help both adults and children with their mental health.”
Mr Alexander is hoping the book will help children to learn how to manage their expectations which positively impacts their mental health.
The important messages in the book are of kindness and resilience, patience, gratitude and adapting to change.
Mr Alexander tells the story through the eyes of a primary school aged child and gives credit to his friend Reggie for the inspiration.
His favourite character is the “Spaghetti Connoisseur”, who is loosely based on his teenage self, when he had a weekend supermarket job.
Mr Alexander is hoping his book will be used by other schools and has already received supportive messages about the book from headteachers and librarians and the impact it has had on their learners.
“Lockdown Looms: Reggie’s Birthday Party” can be purchased from Banji’s website, here or through a good book retailer.
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