When schools closed their doors in March, Daybreak Primary School Assistant Principal Solina Journey was struck by the feeling from walking into such a large, empty building. Without children or staff filling the classrooms and hallways, it was an emotionally challenging experience—even for a veteran educator and leader who is used to tackling a variety of new challenges every day.
Like so many other families, Journey felt the strain from many angles. As a working mother, she thought about the experiences of countless families who must be struggling after losing jobs, child care and other support systems. With her parents in their 70s, she wanted to be cautious about potentially exposing them to a deadly virus, so she and her family kept their distance. And as a school administrator, Journey’s thoughts kept returning to the challenges from a young child’s perspective.
“I know how difficult it has been for kids—especially younger children—to make sense of everything that has been happening since spring,” Journey said. “Not being able to see close friends and family, not being able to participate in favorite activities, and hearing bad news every day about the pandemic and social unrest is a lot for little ones and young adults to comprehend.”
A few weeks after Battle Ground Public Schools shut down by order of the governor (along with all the other school districts in the state), Journey felt a sudden surge of inspiration and started writing. The experience of putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard was therapeutic, and before she knew it, she had completed the story that would become her first published book.
“When the City Went Quiet” follows second-grader Estelle, her single mother who is trying to balance parenting and working from home, and their emotional experiences with COVID-19. Told through the eyes of a young child experiencing changes caused by the coronavirus, the book explores how kids can cope and learn helpful ways to keep their community and loved ones safe and healthy.
“I had been talking to a lot of families who were struggling to make ends meet,” Journey said. “Lots of parents lost their jobs. Many others were trying to balance working from home while also caring for their children. And it’s even more difficult for single parents who are the sole providers for their families.”
Disruptions caused by COVID-19 are hard to understand and can be frightening. Familiar routines at home, at school, and in their communities have been interrupted, causing confusion and emotional distress. Many kids are upset, confused, and sometimes even angry. And they have a lot of questions. “When the City Went Quiet” is intended to help address those questions, and after the story is told, includes discussion questions, coping strategies, and suggested activities designed to help support parents and guardians.
“When the City Went Quiet” was illustrated by Julie Dee. A single mother herself, Dee is a former preschool teacher and para-educator who is thrilled to combine her love of caring for children and her passion for art into an opportunity of illustrating her first children’s book.
Copies of the “When the City Went Quiet” can be ordered at https://solina-adelson-journey.com/. There is also a limited edition of the book available that can be personalized.