When my son was little, it was very important to me that, at some level, he understand his allergies. While we were incredibly thankful not to have a real-life anaphylactic episode to refer to, he had to know that eating the wrong food had some serious consequences for him. And, he had to understand that without scaring the bejeezus out of him.
In searching for something to read to him, my criteria were simple: 1. I was hoping to find a book that was easily understandable to a toddler without oversimplifying the problem and 2. the main character couldn’t be an animal or an alien. I know, it seemed like a lot to ask! I just wanted something my son could relate to.; something based in reality.
Excitingly, I found two great books that fit the bill.
The first, by Nadine O’Reilly, is called Peter Can’t Eat Peanuts. Written in prose, O’Reilly explains a time when a boy named Peter eats a peanut and discovers he has a food allergy. It is brightly illustrated and touches on all the dangers of having a food allergy while keeping an upbeat message about staying safe.
Another great selection is Mommy, Is This Safe To Eat? by Christina Black. This one is unique because it focuses on a real family. Delivering a simple, solutions-focused message about how to stay safe with a food allergy, Mommy, Is This Safe To Eat? also emphasizes the importance of being vigilant about peanut-allergies. Instead of illustrations, this book is full of color photos. I had hoped that my son would see that another real child had food allergies just like him. And, another family looked out for his well-being, just like ours does.
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My son loved these books SO much that when it was his turn to bring in his favorite story from home at preschool, he chose these. (And, as a bibliophile, trust me: he had a TON to choose from!) My son and his classmates came away with a greater understanding of food allergies and how to keep their peers with allergies safe. I hope these recommendations do the same for others.