The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina, has teamed up with author and illustrator Matthew Myers (Hum and Swish, Neal Porter Books) to create child-friendly posters to promote mask-wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“When the governor of North Carolina mandated mask-wearing, he made masks optional for children under 11,” said Kimberly Daniels Taws of The Country Bookshop. “Suddenly, our mask-wearing young customers stopped wearing masks and we were having some confrontational struggles with adamant parents defending the right of their children to not wear masks.”
The store reached out to Myers, a fellow North Carolinian, to see if he had any ideas on how to engage with young customers directly and encourage them to wear masks in a light and fun way.
Said Taws, “Matt blew us away with his brilliant design and clever, clear communication.”
Myers told Bookselling This Week that his first career was in advertising. “I know that humor is far more effective than finger-wagging, especially when it comes to a public service announcement,” he said. “Those of us old enough to remember the gloomy anti-smoking commercials know what I mean. People just don’t respond to being warned or shamed, and there is already enough tension around this issue. So, I just wanted to make parents laugh, and get kids to ask their parents what the words say.”
“Kids want to know why, about everything,” he added. “They can handle a simple explanation of why people are wearing masks. Actually, kids are better than adults at rolling with new rules, as long as they feel included.”
He also said that parents can let kids help make masks out of fabric scraps, or encourage them to decorate their own. “Before long,” he said, “they will be campaigning for mask-wearing, even asking stubborn adults why they don’t have a mask!”
Booksellers looking to promote masks in their stores are welcome to download and use the images Myers has created. A link to the posters can be found here. Stores can download and print the images as is, or add their logo.