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Reading is a huge part of any child’s life. The list below highlights some of the best food allergy books we own, including my favorite food allergy specific books, as well as others every family should have. To be honest, we don’t actually have that many food allergy books, especially in comparison to the number of books we own in general. This is somewhat purposeful.
It is important to have a few books that talk about food allergies, but I don’t want those themed books to take over our reading. Food allergies are a part of everyday life. Ollie is very matter of fact about his allergies. He knows that he has coconut cheese and his cousins have cow cheese. It doesn’t bother him one bit (yet). I’m very thankful for that. He 100% understands that some foods make him sick. He’s never known any different and he’s incredibly in tune to things for being two and a half years old.
I don’t want to overwhelm him with books that hammer home food allergies. We’ve had the best luck with books that can relate back to food allergies in their own way. If we’re reading a book about the hospital, we follow Ollie’s lead. Sometimes he brings up when he had a “big shot” in Boston (epi during a failed food challenge) and sometimes he doesn’t. If he has an appointment coming up that we want to prepare him for, we make sure to lead the conversation that way. This level of freedom with books brings about a positive relationship with reading and the ability to direct food allergy conversations in a way that you know is going to be most productive and helpful for your child.
our favorite food allergy books:
mangos for max
This is Ollie’s absolute favorite food allergy specific book. I love that it introduces Max as the protagonist who can do all kinds of fun things and only mentions his food allergies towards the end. Kids fall in love with super cool Max from the start and are even more excited to learn Max has allergies just like them. It teaches a few simple lessons: hand washing, label reading, and staying away from the food of friends. My one gripe is that it only mentions hand washing before snack and not after. We always add in that everyone washed their hands again before heading to the playground.
This book is PERFECT for an allergy appointment. There are sturdy, reusable bandages inside. Children clean, kiss, and put a band-aid on animals’ bumps and bruises throughout the story to make them “all better.” We brought this to Boston Children’s Hospital for our last round of skin prick testing and the doctors and nurses were so impressed with the book! One amazing nurse gave Ollie his own gauze for cleaning and a device used for measuring a wheal. He happily doctored his animals the whole time. He sat perfectly still and to this day talks about how he was a doctor to the animals while he “got his pokes done.”
the bugabees: friends with food allergies
I purchased this book because I wanted to preview it as a donation option for Food Allergy Awareness Week 2018. I’m working with a number of local libraries to host allergy aware story times and thought this would be the perfect book. Some of the children’s librarians love it and a few feel it is a bit advanced for their storytime crowd. In those instances, we’re going with Mangos for Max instead.
The BugaBees goes through all of the top 8 allergens with fun, repetitive rhyming. As a multiple allergy parent, I appreciate that it talks about multiple foods from our list and always ends with “fun anyway.” The book goes through a number of locations and tries to keep food allergies light and optimistic. The second in the series is one of my favorite food allergy books as it goes into specifics of epinephrine and other items I haven’t seen in other food allergy books. I think it will be a great resource as Ollie gets older.
jonathan james and the whatif monster
With Ollie’s incredible calm about his allergies, this book is more for me right now. I like feeling prepared for when he is plagued by inevitable food anxiety. He’s a lot like me in many other aspects of life, including asking “what was that” with every noise. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he experiences food anxiety. Sorry, kiddo! The WhatIf monster helps conquer Jonathan’s self-doubt about trying all kinds of new things, food and otherwise.
Even if he doesn’t need the message right now, Ollie enjoys the rhyming story and it’s a good way to remind myself to not be too overprotective and worried all the time. I will warn there is a page with spaghetti with sauce so if that presents an allergen that can cause distress, maybe you don’t want this book. We have many books that feature allergens and use them as an opportunity to discuss safe alternatives for Ollie if he brings it up, but I know this might not work for everyone. I like to give fair warning.
nutley the nut free squirrel
We initially purchased this book because Ollie went through a period where he got really excited whenever he spotted a squirrel or chipmunk. It’s a very short and simple story, but we do enjoy it from time to time. It isn’t one Ollie has memorized like Max, but it does stay in the rotation. This is another book I might donate to local libraries for a toddler-geared allergy awareness story time. As an added bonus, all proceeds from this book are donated to FARE. You’re supporting a great cause while educating!
shine a light: at the hospital
We LOVE shine a light books from Usborne Books and More. If you haven’t seen them before, you use a flashlight to reveal hidden pictures on each page. They’re informative, fun, and as they’re read in the dark, sometimes make bedtime go extraordinarily well.
At the Hospital goes through countless different aspects of the hospital experience: a receptionist, an ambulance and paramedic, surgeons, a playroom, and the birth of a baby. Ollie doesn’t remember his ambulance ride after a reaction to egg, but we still talk about it. We want him comfortable with paramedics. He thinks it is pretty exciting to hear he rode in an ambulance once. He’s an almost three-year-old boy, fire trucks and ambulances are some of the coolest things in existence! Fair warning with this book?! At the end, Ollie sometimes asks if he can get a baby sister at the hospital, too…
I added Usborne’s Lift-the-Flap Very First Questions and Answers: What are Germs? into our rotation recently in an effort to combat Ollie’s hands, clothes, and toys constantly going into his mouth. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t helped yet, but I’m not sure anything will right now. Either way, I love this book because it covers a lot of habits that help a child with food allergies stay safe, but without actually mentioning food allergies. Hand washing is important for germs and allergies just the same. I think this would be a great book for a classroom.
what’s next on our list?
As Ollie is entering preschool next year, I’ve been thinking about food allergy books that focus on inclusion. This is where I keep going back to The Peanut-Free Cafe. I love the idea of friends working together to create a safe space and fun plan for everyone. I’m unsure how I feel about admission to the cafe being “peanut-free lunch” as our allergens include so much more. I still think I’ll purchase this book soon to preview for school.
As entering preschool also means more birthday parties, The Princess and the Peanut Allergy has been on my radar, as well. I don’t love the idea of friends fighting over an allergy, but after reading the whole book during a Food Allergy Awareness Week storytime, I really like the end lesson.
What are your favorite food allergy books? Do you have experience with some that are next on our list? Please let me know!
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