Posted Tuesday, July 07, 2020 - 11:02 AM

UN Publishes Book with Pratt Student to Help Children Stay Positive During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly isolating for children who have to spend much of their day at home, unable to play with friends, see grandparents, or interact in ordinary ways with family members who are essential workers. Pratt Institute student Xue Bai, MPS Design Management ’19 and Arts and Cultural Management MPS ’21, provided the initial text and illustrations for the book From My Window: Children at Home During COVID-19 to support children and their families. United Nations (UN) Publications then worked with her creative input and released the final book this June, available as both a free download and in print.


Cover of From My Window: Children at Home During COVID-19 (courtesy United Nations Publications)

The COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly isolating for children who have to spend much of their day at home, unable to play with friends, see grandparents, or interact in ordinary ways with family members who are essential workers. Pratt Institute student Xue Bai, MPS Design Management ’19 and MPS Arts and Cultural Management ’21, provided the initial text and illustrations for the book From My Window: Children at Home During COVID-19 to support children and their families. United Nations (UN) Publications then worked with her creative input and released the final book this June, available as both a free download and in print.

“As an international student who lives in New York, I experienced a lot of ups and downs since the beginning of 2020,” Bai said. “I felt concerned about the families that were impacted by COVID-19 and also about our shared future. At first, it was not easy to process what I read from the news and I decided to do something that could help.”


Illustration from From My Window: Children at Home During COVID-19 (courtesy United Nations Publications)

Bai, who was working as a UN intern, was inspired by daily check-in meetings where her colleagues would discuss how they were doing and what they were feeling. One coworker mentioned his daughter asking: “Dad, what happened to us?” She decided to write the book as a way to show how children everywhere have had similar experiences of being separated from school and friends and wondering about their communities and neighborhoods.

Taking into account the UN’s global perspective on COVID-19, the book team decided to show the disruption of children’s lives around the world, with the publication’s endpapers featuring drawings of window styles from different countries. The book includes real recent events, from neighbors singing from their balconies in Italy to people hanging red fabric from their windows in Colombia to signal they need food, with Bai showing in each instance how children can get involved to participate and help. Whether decorating a grandmother’s window with art or baking for neighbors, From My Window encourages children to find ways to be positive during difficult circumstances. 

“In the book, all the children are actively creating and spending their time and energy in meaningful ways,” Bai said. “In the end page of the book, we see the closed windows are open again.”

Bai recently graduated from Pratt’s Design Management master of professional studies program and is now in the Arts and Cultural Management program. She explained that she was interested in learning how artists and designers can develop solutions to societal challenges through creative leadership. Her research has focused on cross-sector collaborations, with her time at the UN including exploration of the collective impact of their Sustainable Development Goals.

“As an innovator, communicator, and collaborator, the most important lesson that I learned at Pratt is never to lose faith and never give up on people,” she said. “We may face challenging situations, and by being creative and empathetic, and by staying positive together, we can overcome them. Both Design Management and Arts and Cultural Management provide the tools, cultivate the skills, and catalyze the confidence necessary to lead.”


Illustration from From My Window: Children at Home During COVID-19 (courtesy United Nations Publications)

From My Window was recently translated into French and Chinese, and the team is working to have it translated into all six official UN languages. Bai has another illustrated book, called Mission 2030: Leading Life Centered Innovation, planned to be released in the fall, co-authored with Mary McBride, chair of the Arts and Cultural Management and Design Management programs, and Maren Maier, visiting associate professor of design management.

“Having my first children’s book published by the UN is something I would never have expected,” Bai said. “I realized that anyone can be a changemaker.”