Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?

Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?
by Katie Chalmers

What is Celiac disease? . . . . What is gluten? . . . Which foods are gluten-free?. . . Is it contagious? . . . Do I need to take medicine for it? Katie Chalmers, author of the unique, new children's book, titled, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? creatively answers these and many more questions, using positive dialogue and captivating illustrations. This book is endorsed by the top experts in the fields of Celiac disease research and awareness, including Dr. Fasano, Dr. Green, Dr. Guandalini, Alice Bast, Elaine Monarch and more. This book leaves readers feeling reassured, confident...and even lucky to have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, because they are now on the path to better health. What makes this book unique? (1) Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? focuses on everything a child can continue to enjoy in his or her life, rather than list all the things they can no longer have, or talk about embarrassing symptoms. (2) It uses creative, easy-to-understand analogies about nature and playground equipment to explain Celiac, and has an easy-to-follow, positive dialogue between parent & child. (3) It not only helps children understand Celiac, it helps all of the people in the lives of a Celiac to understand it more clearly and to see the sunny side of gluten-free. (4) It directs people to tried and tested gluten-free foods saving them time, money and waste in the process, which is an important issue with so many products to choose from. (5) Its original style: a combination of colorful illustrations and photography. This book leaves children feeling empowered and optimistic about their healthy future. Start your child's gluten-free journey on a positive note, and keep it positive...for life!
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I have to admit, this is the first book about Celiac Disease that I've gotten for my son.  I have several books that I've purchased for myself, from medical books to cookbooks, but for some reason it just didn't occur to me to get one for my son. Maybe it's because he was only 18 months old when he went gluten free, so he has just sort of grown up with this being his normal.  The problem is, now that he's four, he's beginning to realize that his normal isn't everyone else's normal, and he has questions. He's a pretty confident kid, but I can see anxiety creep in sometimes when he's invited to a party, or when we go out to eat. I get questions like "Mommy, will I be able to eat the cake at the party?" or "Will there be any food at the restaurant for me?"  Although he's still too young to really, truly grasp what Celiac disease is and all of what going gluten free entails, he is aware that he has food restrictions, and knows that he gets really sick when he eats something he isn't supposed to eat. That's where this book comes in.

When I first saw that the main character of the book was a girl I was worried that my son might not identify as much, but turns out I was wrong. I presented the book in the package it came mailed it, telling him the gluten free fairy had sent him a surprise. Don't laugh, it worked. He was so excited to get something special just because he was gluten free that he didn't care what was on the cover!

The book walks a child very clearly through what it means to have Celiac disease, and why it's important to be completely gluten free. It also helps give children some pointers for handling outings and other events, all in a positive manner. I would say that the language is probably geared to kids aged 6 and up, but my son had no trouble following along. I was surprised at how much he already knew, and that he was adding suggestions along the way.

This book is a great way to help children understand Celiac disease and helping them see their diagnosis in a positive light. It would also be a great tool for helping siblings or other children who aren't gluten free understand what's happening, and to learn that they can't catch Celiac disease. This book has a special place on my son's bookcase, and he asks me when the gluten free fairy is going to send him more special things because he's gluten free.  I may have created a monster!

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