It surprises me that allergies are not included in children’s books very often given the prevalence of kids with life-threatening allergies. I’m starting a book list and would love to get your suggestions! Thanks so much!
6 Children’s Books with Characters That Have Life-Threatening Allergies
Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner, illustrated by Molly Ruttan
Violet has celiac disease which means her body does not like gluten. It gives her a terrible stomach ache. While some of the people in her life try to accommodate her allergy, it doesn’t always work out because they don’t understand what they need to do to keep her safe. Violet finally decides to stand up for herself and educate those around her. Her friends don’t think she’s a fusspot and now she can enjoy being a kid again with her friends. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally Allergic Fairytale by Sue Gantz-Schmitt, illustrated by Micah Chambers-Goldberg
This is a book that all my kids (grades 1, 4, and 6) agree is a great book. It takes the Princess and the Pea story and cleverly turns it into a nut allergy tale that every child can relate to. With nut allergies so common that we pretty much NEVER pack snacks with nuts to school or sports games, it’s a must-have for every classroom and home. I also like how this story weaves in modern-day realities like epinephrine injections and blood and skin tests for allergies seamlessly. When the queen purges the castle of food with nuts, the packaging is “old thyme” but the list is modern: peanut oil, trail mix, dog bones, energy bars, grain bread, ice cream, peanut oil, etc.! My youngest has asked for this story three nights running! He doesn’t have food allergies nor do his closest friends, but it’s something that he’s very aware of and I think that is why he loves this book. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter
Maggie really wants a puppy but she’s allergic to fur and feathers. When her class reveals the class pet, a guinea pig, it has to be moved to another room. Her allergies make her feel different until she meets Sebastian, who also has an allergy. Maggie has an eventful year navigating friendships, harboring a secret pet, and finding her place in the world, but in the end, her allergies guide her career path. Allergic is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeir and Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novels! [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
A Field Guide for Getting Lost by Joy McCullough
Review by Randomly Reading:
“The thing about robotics and coding that nine-year-old homeschooled Sutton Jensen likes is that is it always black and white – if you code correctly, your program responds as expected. Not like a mom and dad who marry and then get divorced, or a mom who’s always off studying emperor penguins in Antarctica and who sometimes misses big events in Sutton’s life. Hopefully, she’ll make it home for Sutton’s upcoming 10th birthday. And now her dad Martin is dating a woman named Elizabeth and it’s starting to get serious. He’s finally taking her out for a fancy dinner. To ask her something?
Elizabeth’s son Luis is also a bit uncertain about his mom dating Martin. But their first big dinner date does mean he gets to go on his first-ever sleepover. Luis, who lost his dad to cancer when he was two, has serious, very serious food allergies and ends up in the hospital in the middle of his sleepover, ending his mom’s date thanks to some guinea pig food. Luis is a regular at the hospital, and everyone knows him. Back home, his mom suggests a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture, one of Luis’ favorite places. And Luis suggests they invite Martin and Sutton. But as much as Luis enjoys the MoPOP, Sutton is totally disinterested, after all, Luis’ favorite Star Wars exhibit is science fiction, not real science.
Clearly, Sutton and Luis have nothing in common, but Martin, who was very unhappy with Sutton’s behavior at the museum, and Elizabeth decide to try getting the kids together again and take them on an outing hiking in the woods at Discovery Park. Not really wanting to go, both kids nevertheless try a little harder to make the outing less disastrous than the first one. Then Luis spots a “narrow opening in a dense thicket of bushes,” and imagines it’s a secret passageway to another world. The opening is too small for adults, but the parents encourage the kids to explore it and head to what they think will be the other side to meet them.
But when Luis and Sutton take a wrong turn at a dead end and get lost, will they be able to join forces to find their way out and back to their parents?” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Curse of the Phoenix by Aimee Carter
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
12-year-old Zac and his twin sister Lu live in Chicago and are reeling after the death of their beloved mother. She was the one who kept watch over Zac because of the life-threatening allergies that didn’t allow him to attend school or even be outside. He has allergies to gluten, fish, nuts, dairy, animal dander, pollen, and dust. He also has asthma. Their father, who constantly travels for work, can’t take of them in his grief-stricken state so he decides to send them to live with relatives in England for the summer at Wildewood, their family estate which turns out to be an animal conservation center for magical creatures. Zac and Lu grew up hearing stories about Wildewood from their mother but thought it was a fictional place. But all is not right in Wildewood, and Zac and Lu end up affected by an ancient family curse. Will they be able to break it and return to their old life in Chicago? The answer seems to rest with the last remaining phoenix that guards Wildewood and all the mythical creatures. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Shelter by Christie Matheson
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Maya and her family have always struggled financially. Her mother was an art teacher, and her father was a freelance writer who had recently gotten a job working with a famous chef on a cookbook. They live in a small, rent-controlled house near the school where Maya’s mother taught art, but when the father is badly injured in a car accident and the house’s owner gets a good offer to sell, Maya, her mother, and her young sister Gabby find themselves homeless.
They are fortunate to get a place in a family shelter, but it’s hard for them to get a new place. Gabby was born with many health issues and allergies, so it’s hard for the mother to find a place where she can work and take care of Gabby. On the day of the story, cold rain is forecast, and Gabby has to find her way across town to the school near her old house. She doesn’t have a raincoat or an umbrella, which is a problem at her school, which doesn’t have indoor hallways (which is apparently a common thing in California). She has other problems as well. Since her family could take very limited possessions to the shelter, she carries her most treasured possessions with her in her backpack. Her best friend, Abby, wants to have sleepovers, but Maya hasn’t told her that her family is in the shelter.
Worst of all, mean girl Sloane and her minion Madison are constantly making comments about how wealthy they are and making fun of Maya because she is not… and a school unit on helping the homeless is coming up in class. Combined with the worry about her father’s health (he’s in the hospital in a medically induced coma), this is a lot for Maya to deal with while she is at school. Her teachers are supportive, and the kind remarks they make or the small assistance they offer helps a lot. Maya’s mother is interviewing for a job, and the family will be visiting the father in the hospital to check on his progress, both hopeful things in Maya’s world, but when Sloane steals her backpack, it’s too much for Maya to bear alone. Will she be able to let her best friend and others in her life know all of the difficulties she is facing?” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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