My hero, Children’s story book to help children and young people cope with COVID-19
My Hero is You how kids can fight COVID-19
The making of “My Hero is You”
This book was a project developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health
and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG). The project was supported by global, regional
and country based experts from Member Agencies of the IASC MHPSS RG, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers
and children in 104 countries. A global survey was distributed in Arabic, English, Italian, French and Spanish to
assess children’s mental health and psychosocial needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. A framework of topics to be
addressed through the story was developed using the survey results. The book was shared through storytelling to
children in several countries affected by COVID-19. Feedback from children, parents and caregivers was then used
to review and update the story.
Over 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world took the time to share with us how they
were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. A big thank you to these children, their parents, caregivers and teachers
for completing our surveys and influencing this story. This is a story developed for and by children around the world.
This IASC MHPSS RG acknowledge Helen Patuck for writing the story script and illustrating this book.
©IASC, 2020. This publication was published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
3.0 IGO license (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/igo). Under the terms of
this licence, you may reproduce, translate and adapt this Work for non-commercial purposes, provided the Work is
“My Hero is You” is a book written for children around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My Hero is You” should be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher alongside a child or a small group of children. It is not
encouraged for children to read this book independently without the support of a parent, caregiver or teacher. The supplementary
guide called “Actions for Heroes” (to be published later) offers support for addressing topics related to COVID-19,
helping children manage feelings and emotions, as well as supplementary activities for children to do based on the book.
The Reference Group itself will coordinate translation into Arabic, Chinese French, Russian,
and Spanish. Contact the IASC Reference Group for Mental Health and Psychosocial
Support (MHPSS) (firstname.lastname@example.org) for coordination of translations in other
languages. All completed translations will be posted on the IASC Reference Group website.
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- You are not allowed to add your logo (or that of a funding agency) to the product.
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permitted. In any use of this Work, there should be no suggestion that IASC endorses any
specific organization, products or services.
- You should license your translation or adaptation under the same or equivalent Creative
Commons license. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 or 3.0 is suggested. This is the list of compatible
- You should add the following disclaimer in the language of the translation: “This translation/
adaptation was not created by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC). The IASC
is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this translation. The original English edition
“Inter-Agency Standing Committee. My Hero is You: How Kids Can Fight COVID-19!
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO shall be the binding and authentic edition.”
Sara’s mum is her hero because she is the best
mum and the best scientist in the world. But
even Sara’s mum cannot find a cure for the
“What does COVID-19 look like?” Sara asked
“COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is so tiny we
can’t see it,” said her mum. “But it spreads in
the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick,
and when they touch people or things around
them. People who are sick get a fever and a
cough and can have some trouble breathing.”
“So we can’t fight it because we can’t see it?”
“We can fight it,” said Sara’s mum. “That’s why
I need you to be safe, Sara. The virus affects
many kinds of people, and everyone can help
us fight it. Children are special and they can
help too. You need to stay safe for all of us. I
need you to be my hero.”
Sara laid in bed that night and did not feel like a
hero at all. She felt upset. She wanted to go to
school but her school was closed. She wanted to
see her friends but it was not safe. Sara wanted the
coronavirus to stop scaring her world.
“Heroes have super powers” she said to herself,
closing her eyes to sleep. “What do I have?”
Suddenly a gentle voice whispered her name in the
“Who’s there?” Sara whispered back.
“What do you need to be a hero, Sara?” the voice
“I need a way to tell all the children in the world
how to protect themselves so they can protect
everyone else…” said Sara.
“So what do you need me to be?” the voice asked.
“I need something that can fly… something with a
big voice… and something that can help!”
With a whoosh, something amazing stepped into
“What are you?” gasped Sara.
“I’m Ario,” he said.
“I’ve never seen an Ario before,” said Sara.
“Well, I’ve been here all along,” said Ario.
“I come from your heart.”
“If I have you… then I can tell all the
children in the world about the coronavirus!”
said Sara. “I can be a hero! But wait,
Ario, is it safe to travel with the coronavirus
“Only with me, Sara,” said Ario. “Nothing
can harm you when we are together.”
So Sara jumped on Ario’s back and together they soared out through her bedroom
window, into the night sky. They flew towards the stars and said hello to
As the sun rose, they landed in a lovely
desert by pyramids, where a small group
of children were playing. The children
cried out in joy and waved at Sara and
“Welcome, I am Salem!” cried one of the
boys. “What are you doing here? Sorry,
we can’t come closer, we have to stay at
least one metre away!”
“That’s why we’re here!” Sara called back.
“I’m Sara and this is Ario. Did you know
that children can keep their neighbours,
friends, parents and grandparents safe
from the coronavirus? We all need to…”
“Wash our hands with soap and water!”
said Salem with a smile. “We know, Sara.
We also cough into our elbows if we’re
sick – and we wave to people instead
of shaking hands. We try to stay inside,
but we live in a very crowded city… not
everybody is staying home.”
“Hmm, maybe I can help with that,” said
Ario. “They can’t see the coronavirus,
but… they can see me! Jump on, but
please sit on both sides of my wings –
they are at least one metre apart!”
Ario flew into the sky with
Salem and Sara on both of
his wings. He flew across the
city and began to roar and
sing! Salem cried out to the
children in the streets:
“Go, tell your families, we are
safer inside! We can take care
of each other best by staying
People were amazed by what
they saw. They waved and
agreed to go into their
Ario soared high into
the sky. Salem cried
out in joy. Up there in
the clouds a plane flew
by, and the passengers
looked out at them in
“People will have to
stop travelling soon, at
least for now,” said Salem.
“They are closing
the borders across the
world, and we should all
stay where we are and
with people we love.”
“So many things feel like they
have changed,” said Sara.
“I get scared about it sometimes.”
“It can feel scary and confusing when things are
changing, Sara,” said Ario. “When I feel scared, I
breathe very slowly – and breathe out fire!”
Ario blew out a huge fireball!
“How do you relax when you feel scared?”
Ario asked them.
“I like to think about someone who makes me feel
safe,” said Sara.
“Me too, I think of all the people who help me feel
safe, like my grandparents,” said Salem. “I miss them.
I can’t give them a hug because I could give them the
coronavirus. We usually see them every weekend, but
not now because we have to keep them safe.”
“Can you call them?” Sara asked her friend.
“Oh yes!” said Salem. “They call me everyday and I
tell them about all the things we are doing at home.
It makes me feel better, and it makes them feel better
“It is normal to miss people we love that we can’t see
right now,” said Ario. “It shows how much we care.
Would it make you feel better to meet other heroes?”
“Yes please!” Sara and Salem cried back.
“Great, my friend Sasha has a very special
superpower,” said Ario. “Let’s go!”
And so they soared down to earth and landed by
a small village. A girl was outside her house picking
flowers. When she saw Ario and the
children sitting on his wings, she laughed.
“Ario!” she cried. “We have to stay at least one
metre apart, so I will throw you a hug! What are
you all doing here?”
“I felt your hug when you told me that, Sasha,”
said Ario. “I love how we can use words to show
we care, and actions too. I wanted my friends to
learn about your superpower.”
“What is my superpower?” said Sasha.
“Since someone in your family got sick, you are
staying at home to make sure you don’t share the
coronavirus with anyone else,” said Ario.
“Yes, it’s my Dad, and he’s staying in his bedroom
until he gets completely better,” said Sasha.
“But it’s not so bad! We play games, cook,
spend time in our garden and have meals together.
My brothers and I touch our toes and
dance. We read books and I can keep learning
because sometimes I miss school. Staying home
felt weird at first, but now it feels normal.”
“That’s not always easy, Sasha,” said Ario. “You
are finding ways to have fun and get along with
your loved ones at home. That makes you my
“Do you ever fight with your family?” asked
“We fight sometimes,” said Sasha. “We have
to be extra patient, and extra understanding,
and even quicker to say I’m sorry. That is a real
superpower, because it can make ourselves and
others feel better. I also need a little time alone.
I love dancing and singing on my own! And I
can call my friends sometimes…”
“But, Ario, what about people who are far from
home or don’t have a house?” asked Sara.
“That’s a great question, Sara,” said Ario.
“Let’s go and find out.”
And so they said goodbye to Sasha and set off
once more. The air grew warmer as they landed on
an island surrounded by the sea.
There they saw a camp full of people.
One girl saw them and waved from a distance.
“Hi Ario, I’m so happy to see you again!” she
called out. “We are trying to stay at least one
metre away, so I’ll talk to you from here. But I’d
love to meet your friends! My name is Leila.”
“Hi Leila! I’m Sara, and this is Salem,” Sara
called back. “It sounds like you’re trying to
protect yourself from the coronavirus. What else
are you doing?”
“We’re washing our hands with soap and
water!” Leila called back.
“Do you also cough into your elbow?” asked
“Can you show us how?” Leila called back. So
Salem showed them.
“We are all trying to be brave, but I am worried
about something,” said Leila. “Can I talk about
it with you? I heard someone got sick and died
and it made me very afraid. Is it true people can
die from coronavirus?”
Ario breathed a big sigh and sat down on his
“Yes, little heroes, it’s strange,” said Ario. “Some
people don’t feel sick at all, but some people can be
very sick and some might die. That’s why we all have
to be especially careful with older people, and those
with other illnesses, because they tend to get more
sick. Sometimes when we are feeling very afraid,
or unsafe, it can help to imagine a safe place in our
minds. Would you like to try this with me?”
They all said yes, and so Ario asked the children to
close their eyes and imagine a place where they feel
“Focus on a memory or a time when you felt safe,”
He then asked them what they could see, what they
could feel, and what they could smell in their safe
place. He asked if there was anyone special they
would like to invite into their safe place and what
they might talk about together.
“You can go to your safe place whenever you feel sad
or afraid,” said Ario. “This is your super
power, and you can share it with your friends and
family. And remember that I care about you, and
many people do. That will help too.”
Leila said, “We can all care for each other.”
“That’s right, Leila,” said Ario. “We can care for each other, wherever we are. Would you like to come with us on our last
Leila decided to travel with Ario and her new friends. Sara was glad Leila joined them because she knew that sometimes we
need to support each other. They flew quietly, without words, but Leila knew her new friends cared a lot about her.
Snowy mountains slowly came into view, and
Ario landed in a small town. A few children
were playing by a stream.
“Ario!” one of them cried, waving to him.
“Hello, Kim,” said Ario. “Everyone, I wanted
you to meet some friends of mine who have
had the coronavirus, and got better.”
“What was it like?” Salem asked.
“I was coughing and felt too hot sometimes.
I was also really tired and didn’t want to play
for a few days,” said Kim. “But I slept a lot
and my family took care of me. Some of our
parents and grandparents had to go to hospital.
The nurses and doctors were very kind to
them, and people in our community helped
us at home. After a few weeks, we were okay
“I’m Kim’s friend,” said one of the other children. “Just because Kim had the
coronavirus, we didn’t stop being friends – even though I could not see him. I
never stopped caring about him and we’re happy we can play together again!”
“Sometimes the most important thing we can do as friends is protect each
other,” said Ario. “Even if that means staying away from each other for a while.”
“We can do these things for each other,” said Leila.
“And one day, we will all be able to play again and go back to school like we used to,” said Salem.
It was time to go home, and time for Sara to say goodbye to her new friends. They promised each other that they would
never forget their adventure together.
Sara felt sad that they might not see each other for a while. But she felt better when she remembered what Kim’s friend had
said. Just because you can’t see people, it doesn’t mean you stop loving them.
Ario dropped them all back to their
homes, and waited for Sara to fall
asleep before he left.
“Can we do the same tomorrow?”
Sara asked him.
“No Sara, it’s time for you to be
with your family now,” said Ario.
“Remember our story. You can
keep those you love safe by washing
your hands and staying home. I
am never far away. You can always
be with me when you go to your
“You are my hero,” she whispered.
“You are my hero too, Sara. You
are a hero to all those who love
you,” he said.
Sara fell asleep and when she woke the
next day, Ario was gone. So she went to
her safe place to talk to him, then drew
everything they had seen and learnt on
their adventure. She ran to her mum with
her drawing to tell her the news.
“We can all help people be safe, Mum,”
she said. “I met so many heroes on my
“Oh Sara, you are right!” said her mum.
“There are many heroes keeping people
safe from the coronavirus, like wonderful
doctors and nurses. But you remind me
that we can all be heroes, every day, and
my biggest hero is you.”