Monday, 27 May 2013

Are you sitting comfortably....then we'll begin! (Story-telling for Coeliac's.)

Don't you just love getting surprise parcels in the post! I was thrilled when I got home from work recently to find a package from my aunt, who lives in Australia.

Since Alexandra was diagnosed with Coeliac's, Grace has been very kind in sending over gluten-free goodies. (Top of Alex's list has been the Orgran Outback Animal Cookies ( which are the perfect size for kids.)
This time, the treat was a children's book, written by an Aussie author.

Great minds think alike!
Spookily, I had been on the look out for a similar children's book. When I picked Alex up from nursery recently one of her little buddies asked me why she couldn't have one of the sweets which were sitting in the basket for the kids to take home. I didn't have time to answer (the girl's mother was rushing away in a bit of a hurry), but it did make me think that it might be useful to explain to her friends about Alexandra's condition.  If other children her age are anything like her, they are full of questions, some of which are easier to answer than others. (What sound do bats make? Mummy, make the sound!, What does God look like? How do snails get their shells? Why do we need poo?- answers appropriate for a four year old on a post card please!)

What's the story?
With Alex starting school in September, she'll be meeting lots of new kids and it will be important that they understand that she can't have everything they can eat. I figured a children's book which explained what Coeliac's is, if it exists, could be helpful. Cue more internet research, only to find... very little! There were a few children's books about Coeliac's 'pending' on Amazon UK, and one or two books for older children on Amazon USA, but none looked like what I was looking for.

Ee-oh-sin-oh what?!
That's when Grace's parcel arrived. It contained a lovely book called 'Being Henry' by Mercedez Hinchcliff and illustrated by Peter Carnavas. It tells the story of a boy called Henry who has Eosinophilic oEsophagitis (what do you mean you've never heard of it!!). This condition means he is very limited in what he can eat, but he still likes to do lots of fun things with his friends. I was really impressed with the book. The language was simple and straight forward, but not patronising. It explained terms like 'endoscopy' and 'gastroenterologist' in way that certainly made sense to Alexandra. As we read it together for every question she had, the answer was on the next page.  (find the book on the Australian EoE website here:
There was also some basic info for parents and carers, which was good.

'He's just like me.'
Perhaps the best thing about the book for me though was Alex's reaction to seeing in a book a child who also couldn't eat everything their friends ate ('and we're the same age mummy!!!' was shrieked in a high pitched voice on more than one occasion). There really needs to be something like this for children with Coeliac's (and many other illnesses and conditions in fairness, but one step at a time!!)

This is where my brain warps into overdrive and I start thinking about phone apps, cartoons, Dr Ranj talking about Coeliac's on Get Well Soon (a great CBeebies pre-school show for the un-initiated!!) ....  the possibilities are endless!

But back in the real world, does anyone know of any great books to help explain Coeliac's to kids?
(And now I'm off to email the BBC!)


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