Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t turn down a good book. I’m one of those people who would rather own a book than borrow from a library or even download it onto my phone. There’s just something about the physical feel of a book in my hands, one I can crack the spine, write in (gasp!), or dare I say, dog-ear the page… are we still friends? I promise, I love books, and I’m getting somewhere here.
When Grady was first diagnosed with his food allergies, I immediately began the hunt for children’s books that would not only help explain what it meant to live with a food allergy, but also books we could share with his friends, classmates, teachers, etc. I am a firm believer that books are a powerful tool to teach anything. Plus, when a reader can see themselves in the story, that connection is so powerful. Yes, this is my teacher passion coming out…We currently have three allergy-themed children’s books and I’m always on the hunt for more. I would love to find a book that focuses on an egg allergy, and maybe, one day, I’ll just write one! Who knows. But for now, these three books reside in our family bookshelf.
The Princess and the Peanut Allergy
The Princess and the Peanut Allergy, written by Wendy McClure, is an adorable book about two friends, Regina and Paula. Regina is dreaming up the perfect princess birthday party and has invited Paula, who is allergic to peanuts. Paula is beyond excited for Regina’s party until she discovers that Regina’s perfect princess cake will contain peanuts. Paula informs Regina that the cake cannot have peanuts if she is going to attend her friend’s birthday party. This upsets Regina and the girls fight. This is a cute story about friendship and the importance of understanding friends with food allergies. It also emphasizes the importance of food-allergic children telling others about their food allergies. This story will be a favourite in your house!
The Peanut-Free Cafe
In The Peanut-Free Cafe, written by Gloria Koster, EVERYONE at Nutley School, loves peanut butter. Their world is turned upside down when they discover the new student, Grant, is allergic to peanuts. The principal struggles with what to do. Should peanut butter be banned when it is loved by everyone? Should Grant sit at a table by himself? Simon, the biggest lover of peanut butter, comes up with the idea to create a “peanut-free cafe”. At this “cafe”, students with peanut-free lunches can sit with Grant and enjoy a movie over the lunch hour. Even with his great idea, Simon struggles with the reality of not eating peanut butter at school. This unique story shows how food allergies can affect everyone, but in the end, friendships are more important than a peanut butter sandwich.
Austin’s Allergies by Erin Mandras, a fellow allergy mom, is the perfect book to explain what it means to have multiple food allergies. It is the first book that I have found that mentions more than just peanut allergy. Through rhyme, Erin explains in a child-friendly way how to manage food allergies. At the same time, she also ensures that the child understands that he/she is more than their food allergy. Based on her son, Austin, who has multiple food allergies, this book is a great way to begin the discussion of what it means to be food-allergic.
Opportunities to use any or all of these books:
- Share with your child’s teacher, daycare provider, babysitters, grandparents, or any other adult who interacts with your child regularly.
- Offer to read one of these stories at a children’s story time at school, local library, etc.
- Tell your local library about these titles. Allowing opportunities for other children and their parents to better understand food allergies is a great help in bringing awareness! You never know if these children will be in your child’s class.
- Read these books often with your own kids. Not only are these stories enjoyable, but I truly believe they will help your food-allergic child, and his/her siblings better understand food allergies. Talk about the stories: how the characters felt, the problem/solution, your child’s thoughts/questions, and any connections they may have.
Let me know what you think. If you have any other book suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!