Why Wash My Hands? health education through reading books

Why Wash My Hands?
health education through book reading

The importance of health education among children and adolescents has become clear ever since the coronavirus outbreak. In this situation, adults have to be careful not to create a stressful environment for the young ones while educating them at the same time. And what better way to achieve this than reading books and its related joyful activities?

Below, you can read the experiences of Read with Me promoters regarding health education. It is worth noting that some of these activities date before the coronavirus outbreak. Hence, if you are wishing to educate children through books, you have to take the current situation of your region into account and take the necessary precautions. Parents can also take advantage of their time staying at home and try these activities with their children.

Why Wash My Hands When They Aren’t Dirty?

Location: Nomadic School, Radochahi Village, Zahedan, Sistan and Balouchestan Province
Book Name: Kein bisschen dreckig
Date: 7  April 2017

Today, on World Health day, I read-aloud “Kein bisschen dreckig” to my students. Before the read-aloud, I asked them questions:

“Look at your hands. Do you think they are dirty?”
Three of them agreed. So, I asked them why they so.

– Because I touched a pencil.

– Because I played with soil.

– Because there’s something on my hands.

“Who knows what these things on our hands are called?”

– I know! Microfe.

“Well done! But it’s actually pronounced microbe. Now, who knows what microbes are?”

– Microbes are in the soil.

– Microbes make us sick.

– (in the Balouchi dialect) Microbes are creatures.

Then I started reading aloud. On page 6 I asked children when they thought they should wash their hands.

– Morning, noon, night!

– When we eat breakfast and dinner.

– When they’re dirty.

– When we pray.

On page 13, I asked “Why do we have to wash our hands after playing in the river? Water is clean, isn’t it?”

– We have to wash it because people go inside the river with their shoes on.

– Because they wash their clothes in the river.

– Because they bathe in the river.

– Because sheep drink from the river.

When we reached the part of the book where the main character has a fever, I used a thermometer to teach them how it works. One of the children was feverish. His clothes and nails were dirty too.

We talked about medical tests and ambulances as well.

When the book finished, they all watched each other’s hands and clothes and made sure they didn’t have a fever. In the end, we all went to the yard and washed our hands by the plants.

With books, you can educate children in a way that doesn’t require repetitious dos and don’ts.

I was surprised at how influential the book had been. When children washed up and came back to class, they told the older students to go wash their hands as well, because they have microbes!

Through many years of teaching, I’ve always emphasized on hygiene. I assigned students to control everybody’s health. They were called the doctors of the class. However, after this read-aloud, children started inspecting themselves. They watched their own nails, hands and clothes. “I’ll wash my clothes tomorrow and clip my nails…”, I overheard them talking to each other.

I had asked one of the boys who hadn’t cut his hair for a long time, why he didn’t do so. He had replied that it was his sister’s wedding and that his father had told him not to cut his hair short. But after reading the book, I overheard him telling others that there must be a lot of microbes in his hair. “I’ll go cut it tonight!”, he said.

Wash Your Hands Read-aloud

Location: Jiko Creative Institute, Qeshm Island, Hormozgan Province
Book Name: Wash Your Hands! by Tony Ross
Date: February 2020

In the early days of outbreak, children talked about corona too! They fret about how terrible it is and that bad things will happen if they get it. They worried about having to stay at home and not being able to come to class as well…

Considering their anxiety, I chose “Wash Your Hands!” to read-aloud. With its appropriate language and humorous illustrations suited for this age-group, the book talks about microbes and the importance of hygiene. Children’s reactions were particularly interesting. They listened attentively and cheerfully.

For the follow-up activities, children made paper crowns like the character of the story. Then, we played a game called “microbe’s escape”. In the end, I asked children to draw microbes and viruses.

Health Education Promotion in Kerman

Location: Sepehr “Read with Me” Library, GhassemAbad Village, Jiroft, Kerman Province
Book Name: Why Wash My Hands? – Germs Are Not for Sharing! – The Big Sneeze

The librarian of Sepehr “Read with Me” Library in Jiroft has travelled to 3 nearby villages to hold read-aloud sessions. Her purpose has been to educate children in personal hygiene, the correct way to wash hands and lowering their anxiety levels.

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