Food allergies are growing in prevalence among U.S. children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3 million children were reported as having food allergies in 2007 — that’s up 18 percent from 10 years prior. For these children, as well as their friends, siblings, and parents, navigating their condition is complex.
We’ve rounded up some of the best books for children with food allergies and the people who love them.
Allergic Like Me
Young children with food allergies often deal with questions and attention they’d rather not have to. “Allergic Like Me” by Michelle Meyer-Devlin, is a storybook for these children. She wrote the book to let children with allergies know they’re not alone. Meyer-Devlin has a child with severe food allergies, so she knows the struggles all too well.
Understanding food allergies can be difficult for adults, let alone young children. In “DJ’s Allergies,” author Jennifer Ormond, and illustrator Curt Walstead, use a young character named DJ to explain food allergies and just how serious they are. Ormond has four children, three of which have severe food allergies. She knows the key to raising healthy children with this condition is educating them as early as possible about their allergies and what it means to be allergic.
Can I Have Some Cake Too? A Story About Food Allergies and Friendship
Children with food allergies can’t indulge their impulses when it comes to enjoying treats at a birthday party. For Michelle, waiting for her mother’s permission to share in a friend’s birthday cake is a grueling episode. “Can I Have Some Cake Too?” by Melanie Nazareth, is a great lesson for children with food allergies, but also for the other children they spend time with. The book also includes discussion questions and additional resources, making it a great addition to the classroom library.
Taking Food Allergies to School
This book from allergy mom Ellen Weiner is a great volume for sharing in the classroom. It tells the story of Jeffrey and how his food allergies affect his school day. It does a wonderful job of teaching children to empathize and support their classmates who have food allergies.
The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies
The outdoor creatures in “The BugaBees” all have their own specific food allergies. This book from Amy Recob showcases how a community of friends can be a great source of support and fun when you sometimes have to skip dessert. Using rhyming verse to tell the story, this is a great book to read aloud to children who either have food allergies, or who share playtime or the classroom with those who do.
The Princess and the Peanut Allergy
What happens when you can’t eat your best friend’s birthday cake? That’s the problem Paula faces when she’s invited to Regina’s party, where the cake is topped with peanut butter candies. Regina has a peanut allergy. This story illustrates potential conflicts that children may have with their friends who don’t understand allergies. It offers a great lesson in friendship, compromise, and keeping healthy.
Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel
Stephanie Sorkin is the mother of a child who has food allergies. She knows the difficulties of living with the diagnosis. The book is about Nutley, a unique squirrel who has an allergy to nuts. Join him in this adorable book as he navigates his special lifestyle. Sorkin has pledged to give the proceeds of her book to FARE, an organization that raises money and awareness for children with food allergies.
Food Allergies and Me: A Children’s Book
Living with a food allergy doesn’t begin and end with choosing the right foods for snacks and mealtimes. In “Food Allergies and Me,” you’ll accompany Jack as he goes through his school day, visits his allergist, and plays with friends on the playground. With the help of Jack and his friends, this book can help teach children about food allergies and how allergies are nothing to be ashamed of.
The Day I Met the Nuts
When a young boy learns of his nut allergy after a reaction at a birthday party, his whole life changes. This book from Mary Rand Hess accompanies him as he learns to navigate life with an allergy. From asking what’s in his favorite foods, to cleaning out the cupboards at home, it offers real life experiences that are perfect for illustrating the tactical side of living with a food allergy.
The Peanut-Free Cafe
Peanut butter is a popular food at Nutley School. But when a new student arrives with a peanut allergy, everyone’s forced to take a hard look at their love of the nut. This book by Gloria Koster and Maryann Cocca-Leffler, explains food allergies and the social obstacles kids with allergies may face. It also illustrates creative ways of dealing with food allergies in school.
Why Can’t I Have a Cupcake?
For most kids, the most difficult part of having a food allergy is abstaining from all of the goodies life presents. In “Why Can’t I Have a Cupcake?” is about Rory, who hates that cupcakes make him sick. But at a birthday party he meets another child who can’t eat certain foods. Written by Betsy Childs and illustrated by Dan Olson, this book does a great job of showing children that they aren’t alone in their food allergies. Other kids struggle with the limitations of a strict diet, too.
Patty’s Secret: A Tale About Living with Food Allergies
“Patty’s Secret: A Tale About Living with Food Allergies,” is about Patty, who is ashamed of her allergies and keeps her condition a secret at her new school. This book from Leneille Moon and Brandon Fall, talks about the dangers of keeping such a serious condition quiet. It also helps teach children an important lesson for kids worried about fitting in.