Southampton nurse creates children's book to reduce coronavirus anxiety

Molly Watts children's book

A Southampton intensive care nurse has created a book to help reduce anxiety in children caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The free online publication, entitled Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus, has already been downloaded 15,000 times and used in schools and nurseries prior to their closures.

It was written by Molly Watts, a staff nurse on the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Southampton Children’s Hospital, who penned it after a nightshift last week.

“I have always written and drawn little stories and poems for my patients in PICU when I can and I was preparing to self-publish some books when the coronavirus outbreak began to intensify,” said Molly, who has worked on PICU for the past five years.

“With everyone talking and worrying about what is going on I kept thinking about the impact this must be having on children.

“Last week when the government started releasing more advice on isolating I thought maybe I should try to write something for children to help them at this time.”

Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirusMolly, who has other titles set for release under her newly-established Nurse Dotty Books range, said her intention was to provide “information without fear” that was factual and child-friendly.

“Big changes to children’s routines and lots of stories on the news can make it a really scary time,” she explained.

“I hope the story helps parents to start a conversation with their children about coronavirus and, hopefully, alleviates some of their anxiety.

“I went home and wrote the words then spent Tuesday drawing the book and put it online Wednesday when my family, friends and colleagues first started sharing the link.

“Since then it has reached so many more people than I expected it to, with nearly 15,000 downloads and reports it was used in schools and nurseries before they closed at the end of last week, as well as sent home to parents as a support tool.”

She added: “I’ve had lots of people tell me that their children were really anxious and didn’t understand what exactly was going on but that reading the story had helped them feel better.

“That sort of response is so lovely and positive and the fact it has been so well received is incredible - I am just pleased I could help in another way.”

To download the book and to find out about Molly’s other upcoming titles visit

If you would like to support staff at University Hospital Southampton during this challening period, Southampton Hospital Charity has launched an NHS Heroes appeal. Alternatively, find out more about supporting Southampton Children's Hospital here

Posted on Sunday 22 March 2020