Kat Arksey, Hull mum of two young boys, took the opportunity during the latest lockdown to write her debut short children’s book from the eyes of a child. She wrote the story to help her eldest son, aged 4, understand more about why we’re all having to stay at home and why his school is closed. When Harry Stayed Home: A Child’s Perspective of Lockdown was self-published through Amazon on Valentine’s Day this year.
As soon as the news was announced in January 2021 of another lockdown and school closures, Kat Arksey, Hull mum of two boys aged 4 and 18 months, decided to write a short children’s book drawing on her 11-year experience of working with children and families. After positive feedback from family and friends, Kat asked her friend and illustrator, Aermaen, to bring the story to life with her artwork. The book was self-published on Amazon Kindle on 14 February 2021, followed days later by the paperback version.
The story is aimed at young children aged 2-6, and follows two brothers that are staying at home and homeschooling due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Written from the eyes of a child, the book aims to help other parents and young children talk about the virus, lockdown, what the vaccine means, and how things will get back to normal, in a positive, child-friendly way. As the blurb states:
‘Harry and his brother are spending a lot of time at home lately. There are fun times to be had at home but it feels sad to be away from the people we love and places that are important to us. Harry learns more about why everyone is staying at home and how things will get better soon.’
Hull teacher, dad of three young children and self-published author, Luke Flanagan, helped Kat through the process of self-publishing online. He said:
“When Harry Stayed Home is the perfect book for allowing young children to understand the changes over the past year. It is relatable and allows them to understand that slowly, life will soon start to get back to normal.”
Kat feels strongly about how the lockdown has impacted on children and believes children have made incredible sacrifices:
“Our kids have given up on so much and many young children are struggling to understand. My youngest son is 18 months old and has spent two thirds of his life in lockdown.
“We need to recognise what sacrifices our children have made. We really need to think about how we’re going to work to help children recover from this. It’s so important.
“I’ve been blown away with the feedback I’ve had from my book. It’s becoming really popular among parents. Some have told me their children have said things like “Mummy, that’s just like us!”. Others have told me it’s helped them initiate a conversation with their child about the pandemic to help them understand and feel more reassured.
“It’s been a really difficult year for everyone. Writing has been really cathartic for me and is helping me recover after a period of struggling with depression. It’s been so positive for my mental health, and I’m so pleased to be helping other families too.”
When Harry Stayed Home has sold over 80 copies in its first week since release.
Kat Arksey is a mum of two boys and has over 11 years’ experience working with children and families, including as a social worker. When Harry Stayed At Home: A Child’s Perspective of Lockdown is her debut children’s book, and is available now on Amazon Kindle and paperback.
Kat plans to write another book to recognise what every child has been through in the past year, and to say thank you for the sacrifices they’ve made. Inspired by Clap for Carers, she wants to recognise and celebrate kids as the superheroes of COVID-19. You can follow Kat on Instagram at two_moons_bookclub.