We’re always on the lookout for new books to add to our diabetes bookshelf, and now two new titles for kids and teens with type 1 diabetes (T1D) caught our eye, as they’re uniquely written from the child’s point of view about what it’s like to live with this condition.
Both were released earlier in 2021, and one has even been added to the JDRF’s Bag of Hope welcome package, offered to newly-diagnosed kids and their families. That title strives to bring more representation for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in diabetes education.
A third book published in 2019 is also share-worthy. It aims to help teach younger kids who have parents with T1D why — among other things — these adults have to wear different devices that “go beep.”
Here’s a look at these three books ideal for families whose lives include T1D.
“Shia Learns About Insulin” is the first book in a new book series that follows young Shia-Lee Harvey and her family during and after she is diagnosed with T1D. On their journey, Shia learns how to safely manage her T1D at home with help from her diabetes educator. Written by Shaina Hatchell, a registered nurse, certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES), and nurse manager at the Howard University Diabetes Treatment Center in Washington, DC, the story was inspired by her brother, who was diagnosed with T1D in 2002 when he was 9 years old.
Hatchell’s family saw a lack of resources representing BIPOC communities in diabetes educational materials. That meant the author and her family had to rely on their own CDCES as almost their exclusive source of information on how to tackle this new condition. For this D-Sister, who was 12 years old at the time, her brother’s diagnosis was a life changing event that pushed her to eventually go into the diabetes field herself.
Her first children’s book is written from the point of view of a girl experiencing her little brother’s diagnosis, just like Hatchell herself did. It captures the author’s love for poetry with a rhythmic format throughout the 24 pages. Her brother Dom is also a character in the book, serving as the diabetes educator in the book, helping Shia and her family.
Notably, the book’s main character is named after the daughter that Hatchell lost during pregnancy. She says she found this as a way to help her live on in the pages.
“The reason I wanted to make her a young African American girl is because I wanted to help with the disparities in diabetes care in the African American space,” Hatchell said during an interview on the Diabetes Connections podcast. “I do that by including education in the series of books, as well as representation. Anytime I teach, I primarily do new-onset diabetes, so this book is literally what I teach every single day.”
This beautifully illustrated book depicts insulin as a key that unlocks the body’s response to sugar. It delves into why kids with T1D can or can’t eat certain things, how their body reacts with this condition, and why they might need to have diabetes data displayed on their phone. It’s meant to be a conversation-starter for these kids, their families and diabetes care team.
“I am excited to partner with JDRF to share Shia-Lee’s story,” Hatchell said in a news release about the recent inclusion of the book in JDRF’s Bag of Hope. “For newly diagnosed children, it is important for them to know and see that they are not alone. By sharing Shia’s story, we can help the transition and understand what life with T1D is like in a fun, and compassionate way.”
The second book in the series, “Shia Learns About Diabetes Care,” is available for pre-sale as of mid-October 2021.
The description for that title: “It has been 6 weeks since Shia and her parents learned she has type 1 diabetes. Now, she is heading back to see her friends at the hospital for a checkup. The most exciting part is, she gets to show off her new backpack. When her family arrives, they meet Shia’s first dia-buddy, Carlos, and his parents. Join Carlos and Shia as they explore each other’s cool diabetes backpacks and learn more about their diabetes care!”
Hatchell is also planning a third book in the series, focused on type 2 diabetes (T2D) in children and how Shia and her friends learn about the differences in types of the condition. She hopes to address the stigma issue that often comes up in the context of different diabetes types.
The books are available at the Shia Learns website in paperback form starting at $12.74, as well as in e-book format for $10.
The new book “What It’s Like to Have Type 1 Diabetes” was actually written by a 13-year-old who lives with T1D in Florida, Jace Tacher. He won a first place award for this at a local county literary fair after writing this as a school assignment.
Tacher was diagnosed about a decade ago, just before he turned 3. His 14-page book is aimed at those between 7 and 18 years old.
The description: “Journey with Jace as he explains the basics of Type 1 Diabetes. Follow along with Pancreas, Insulin, and other characters as they discuss how food affects someone living with this disease. Filled with lively characters and a captivating conflict, ‘What It’s Like to Have Type 1 Diabetes’ educates and inspires readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the disease.”
Early feedback from the diabetes community has been overwhelmingly positive.
One D-mom looking for a way to help her child explain T1D to his new second grade class wrote in an Amazon review: “This [book] was approved by my 7-year-old. And will be sent to school!”
Another Amazon reviewer wrote: “Being able to see the different characters in Jace’s book helps form a relationship to the actual components that a Type 1 experiences. This visual explanation is so important to use as a tool when explaining T1D to children or adults. Excellent!”
This title is available in Kindle e-book format for $7.99, and the publishers are donating a portion of the profits to the Florida-based Diabetes Research Institute. There also may be more books in the works, Tacher’s family says, but nothing is finalized yet.
First published in October 2019, “Mommy Beeps” is aimed at kids 4 to 8 years old who have a parent, sibling, family member, or teacher with T1D. It uses some fun illustrations to tell the story of a mother who lives with T1D and is educating her child on why things are a certain way living with this condition.
The book is written and self-published by Kim Baillieul in Ohio, who was diagnosed with T1D at 12 years old in 1998. She decided to write the book for children after she couldn’t find anything like it to help share with her own young boys.
Her oldest son was about 2 years old when they were at the park one day and her blood sugar dropped, so she took out a juice box to treat her low. Her little son was more than confused about why he couldn’t have that juice box.
That gave her the idea and, after not being able to find any adequate resources to help educate her kids, Baillieul decided to create one of her own. The book took her about 2 years to finish, she says, including finding a freelancer illustrator, and she finally self-published in the latter part of 2019.
It has detailed drawings of diabetes supplies and the gadgets that so often go beep, whether it’s a fingerstick glucose meter, insulin pump, or continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It tackles the question, “Where does the insulin go?” from the fridge butter compartment to what happens once it enters the body.
Readers get to go on adventures, from dealing with low or high blood sugars to waiting on hold with an insurance company or getting lab results, to visiting the doctor’s office.
This book has created quite a bit of buzz in diabetes social media circles, as a cute and useful addition to our diabetes library.
You can find it on Amazon in paperback form for $11.99.
You can also check out numerous diabetes books reviewed and previewed here at DiabetesMine through the years. And please let us know if there are anymore share-worthy D-books that you’d like to see us cover.