New book published to help children understand how handwashing prevents coronavirus

The importance of hand hygiene has been amplified in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but getting youngsters to understand why we need to wash away germs can still be a difficult task.

To help parents, teachers and healthcare workers educate young children about handwashing in relation to viruses like COVID-19, expert researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have partnered with Medina Publishing to produce a new e-book explaining how germs spread.

Front Cover_HR

Titled Bye-Bye Germs: Be a Handwashing Superhero and illustrated by Jules Marinner, the book is the latest release in the ‘Germ’s Journey’ series by microbiologist Dr Katie Laird and education specialist Professor Sarah Younie which raises awareness and communicates the importance of handwashing at a young age.

“Because they cannot see germs, children often don’t understand the need to wash their hands,” explained Dr Laird, who is also head of DMU's Infectious Disease Research Group.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have all been told how important it is to wash our hands properly and regularly to prevent the virus spreading, but explaining to children the reasons why is equally as important.

“We have developed Bye-Bye Germs to teach young children about hand hygiene and help them identify where viruses can be contracted and ways to prevent the spread.”

The new e-book, which is being made freely available for a limited launch period for parents and schools in Leicester, tells the story of siblings Jess and Joe who are on a mission to stop germs spreading after a tickle in Jess’ throat turns into a giant cough and sneeze.

It also includes top tips for how families can prevent the spread at home, a picture guide on how to wash hands properly and a ‘spot the germs’ illustration, to help youngsters identify where viruses can be picked up.

Bye-Bye Germs is a relevant, up-to-date resource specifically produced to help educate early years children about how germs spread and why we need to wash our hands to prevent viruses like of coronavirus,” said Professor Younie, Professor in Education, Innovation and Technology.

“We have combined our multidisciplinary knowledge to produce an educational resource that helps children to easily digest the science behind the story.”

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Medina Publishing is distributing the e-book to primary schools across Leicester, as well as the Isle of Wight, where the publisher is based. The book will be launched nationally by the end of June.

A print edition of Bye-Bye Germs will be available shortly, ready for the new school term. DMU and Medina Publishing are also planning to translate the book into other languages to reach youngsters, parents and teachers around the world.

“We want to reach as many children as we can,” added Dr Laird. “Handwashing has been at the forefront of prevention in the coronavirus pandemic, so it has never been more topical and important to get children talking about how viruses spread and where they can be picked up.”

Dr Laird - A Germ's Journey

The idea for the first book, A Germ's Journey came about when Dr Laird was trying to teach her young son about germs and handwashing and realised that there were very few educational resources available for teaching young children about this topic.

Together, Dr Laird and Professor Younie developed A Germ's Journey to show preschool-aged children the bacteria that lurks on their hands, using special thermochromic black paint. Once a child’s hand is placed upon the paint, the microbes present appear on the hands in the book and the black paint vanishes.

After a successful launch in Leicester, they travelled to Ahmedabad in India to run A Germ’s Journey workshops for youngsters in partnership with charity Manav Sadhna, which provides food, health and education to families living in slums.

Germs Journey in India (2)

Last year, A Germ’s Journey was also brought to life at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum for its MiniBrum gallery; a child-sized world designed for youngsters to explore their understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through different role-play zones.

The museum incorporated A Germ’s Journey games and activities throughout the exhibition and offered health hygiene workshops for schoolchildren as part of its educational programme.

For more information about the Germ’s Journey project, visit, where there are a wealth of resources including games, downloads and teaching tips freely available.

To order a free copy of the new Bye-Bye Germs story, email Medina Publishing at:

Posted on Monday 15 June 2020

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