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Researchers and students co-create book to teach youngsters about antibiotic resistance


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A new book that helps children understand the importance of antibiotic resistance has been published by a team of academic experts and students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU). 

‘A Germ’s Journey: A Fight Against Resistance’ was written by English Language and Creative Writing graduate Joe Glover, informed by research by leading microbiologist Professor Katie Laird and education specialist Professor Sarah Younie. 

A Fight Against Resistance

Developed for children aged 7-11, the book has a superhero theme that aims to help youngsters learn about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and why it is important to complete courses of antibiotics.  

It also explores why antibiotics should not be shared with family members or friends, and the difference between a virus and bacteria and when antibiotics are required for treatment of an infection. 

A Fight Against Resistance is the newest edition in the ‘Germ’s Journey’ series, established by Professor Laird and Professor Younie to raise awareness and communicate to young children the importance of hygiene to prevent illness. 

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest global health threats we face but it has slipped under the radar and become less of a focus because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” explained Professor Laird. “But it hasn’t gone away - it is still a serious health threat.” 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that AMR – when bacteria change in response to the use of antibiotics – is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity and that it requires urgent action.  

Without action, the number of people for whom treatment is failing or who die of infections will increase and medical procedures will become riskier. 

“The idea of this new book is to bring this pressing issue back to the forefront and teach children about antibiotics so that we can preserve, through education, our antibiotics,” added Professor Laird. 

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This latest release by the Germs Journey team is a ‘pathfinder’ book, which means it has been designed with activities for children to complete, which requires them to make decisions and learn as they go.  

“This book is an interactive experience which means the children cannot be passive – they have to engage as they read,” explained Professor Younie. 

“We chose this type of book for the 7-11 age group because the children are of an age that they can read and understand but are still young enough to invest in the superhero narrative and activities.” 

The concept for A Fight Against Resistance was developed in a collaboration between the Germs Journey team and DMU graduate Joe, who had just finished his undergraduate degree and was starting his post-graduate studies.  

Joe Glover
English Language and Creative Writing graduate Joe Glover is the author

“I met Katie and Sarah on a DMU Global trip to Ahmedabad in India a couple of years ago, where the Germs Journey team were running workshops for young children to raise awareness of the importance of hand hygiene,” explained Joe, who also now works at DMU in a public engagement role. 

“After the trip, they asked if I would be interested in writing a new book they were working on and I straight away said yes.  

“It’s been an amazing experience. This is the first time I worked with a publisher which in itself is a big deal and definitely a confidence boost as an English Language and Creative Writing graduate.” 

GJ India
Joe (centre) on a DMU Global trip in India, with the Germs Journey team

Alongside Joe, the team also worked with Sarah Robinson, a Game Art Design graduate who illustrated the book, and Graphic Design student Abbie Law, who is developing school workshops based around the story with help from Dr Ryan Hamilton, a senior lecturer in Pharmacy Practice at DMU (and expert in AMR). This has been made possible thanks to funding from the National Biofilm Innovation Centre (NBIC), who also contributed towards the printing cost for the books.

A Germ’s Journey: A Fight Against Resistance is now available to buy online directly from Troubador Publishing, or as an e-book via Amazon. A number of free copies are also available for schools and can be requested from the Germs Journey team by emailing enquiries@germsjourney.com 

Posted on Thursday 16th December 2021

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