5 Questions with Venus Liles, on How to Talk to Kids about COVID-19

Local author turns her own challenges with talking to her children about the novel coronavirus into a sweet, useful kids’ book.
by Susanna Klingenberg

courtesy Venus Liles

Local mom and attorney Venus Liles is no stranger to tough conversations. But when it came to talking with her daughters about COVID-19 and social distancing, she felt daunted. Unable to find a children’s book to help these conversations, she decided to write one herself. Luna Stays Home is a new children’s book written specifically to help parents navigate these critical conversations. We talked with Liles about her new book, surviving quarantine with kids and what she thinks we’ll remember about this unusual time. 

Luna Stays Home is a book with a clear mission. Tell us how you hope this book is helping to shape the experience of parents and children in this unprecedented time. 

Yes, the book’s mission was pretty clear to me from the beginning: to help parents have an honest and loving conversation with their children about what’s going on in the world right now.

It’s tough to get that conversation started when you don’t have all of the answers and can’t truthfully tell your kids that everything’s going to be okay. I didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly what to say to my daughters, so the point of the book was never to give parents a script. Instead, I hope it helps create an atmosphere where the whole family feels comfortable asking and answering questions.

To facilitate that, the main character asks the reader questions, ranging from the lighter “What do you love doing at home with your family?” to the more direct “Is there anything you’re feeling worried about?” I think that back and forth dialog that helps everyone feel heard, understood, and loved. 

The book discusses the logistics of our current COVID-affected state: hand washing, staying home from school, and not being able to hug grandparents. But its heart is really about the emotional side of social distancing. Why did you decide to strike that balance? 

Because the emotions of social distancing are complicated. We miss friends and extended family, of course. We feel fear about all the uncertainty. But we also feel moments of deep joy at the simplicity of just being home with family. That’s a lot to feel at one time, especially for kids!

So while I wanted to address the logistics of social distancing, I wanted to focus on what kids will probably remember from this unexpected transition: how all these changes make them feel. 

The main character is a young girl named Luna. What’s the significance of her name?

I wanted the main character’s name to point toward hope. Luna means “moon” in Latin and, during this time especially, I love considering the cyclical nature of the moon’s rotation. It’s a cycle that’s dependable: every phase eventually ends and begins again. There’s hope in that. I wanted the book to embody that hope.

What does parenting during COVID-19 look like at your house, as we begin week 5?

It’s a mix of highs and lows, similar to the experience in the book. On one hand, it’s incredibly difficult to juggle our jobs and household responsibilities with full-time parenting. On the other hand, we have bonded with our daughters more than we ever thought possible. Turns out we all love spending lots of time together. Honestly, the less we focus on the nuts and bolts of “parenting” and focus instead on just being together as a family, the happier we all are. And popsicles seem to buy us a good ten minutes of quiet time when needed.

How do you hope your own kids will look back on how your family discussed COVID-19 and social distancing?

I think about that a lot. I wonder how they’ll remember this time and what stories they’ll tell about it. I don’t think they’ll remember the details of our hygiene practices, the exact words we used when discussing the coronavirus, or if all of the facts were scientifically accurate. I hope that instead they’ll remember the “togetherness” of this time. And that they’ll think back on our conversations during this time, and feel that they were heard, understood, and loved.

A digital version of Luna Stays Home is available to download here or at Amazon.