September is Celiac Awareness month. The autoimmune disorder, also known as celiac sprue, now affects up to 1 in 133 people in this country. CD has a genetic component and can be diagnosed in both childhood and adulthood. In those with CD, eating grain-based products that contain gluten sets off an immune response that can damage the small intestine and interfere with the its ability to absorb nutrients. This can lead to stomach pain, absorption issues, growth issues and a variety of other concerns.
Last week I attended the Gluten Free Expo in New Jersey, a two day event that was filled to the brim with consumers like me who were looking for gluten free products either for themselves or for their children. Between those with Celiac disease and the many people who are realizing that they simply feel better when they eliminate gluten from their diet, it was evident by the crowd that gluten-free products are growing in both demand and popularity.
One of my very favorite parts of attending the Gluten Free expo was meeting two authors who have written children’s books about Celiac disease. When my son was first diagnosed with all of his food allergies many years ago, there were not many books on the market to comfort him or to explain food allergies to his friends and classmates.
First I met Heather Spergel, the very talented children’s author of books like the Gabi Babaroni series. Her books are creative, descriptive, poignant. The title of her new book, Free To Be–Gluten-Free!, may feel familiar to people of a certain age. (Ahem. Who remembers Free to be You and Me?) This beautiful story tells the tale about gluten intolerance and food allergies through the eyes of a young boy. The character is based on Spergel’s own son who lives with Celiac disease. Once the boy in the story gets rid of the gluten monster, he learns that living gluten-free can be both fun and tasty too. Of the few children’s books out there about the topic of food allergies, most are written for toddlers. There are even recipes and gluten-free tips included! This book is age appropriate for kids who are a little older too. Free To Be–Gluten-Free! is magically illustrated by Anita Martino and retails on Amazon for about $16.17.
I also had the opportunity to meet the very spunky Elena Torsiello, author of Willie Villie Meets Casey Kramps in Sprueville. Having been diagnosed at the age of 40 with Celiac disease, Torsiello hopes to generate awareness so that others do not have to endure the same long term suffering as she did. This story creatively tells the tale of Casey Kramps, a boy who has celiac disease. Casey meets goes on a wild adventure with his new friend who teaches him what it means to be gluten-free and how with just a few small changes to his diet he can live a healthy and happy life. This adorable book retails for about $14.39 on Amazon.
If you have a child with Celiac disease or if your child has any friends with the autoimmune disorder, I highly recommend getting a copy of these books, because I know firsthand how helpful books like these can be for children who have this difficult-to-explain disease. Both authors graciously gave me a copy of their book for review, which I am happily donating to my son’s elementary school so that all children can learn what it means to be gluten-free.
Disclosure: Though I received a copy of each of these books for review, I was under no obligation to write about them. There was no further compensation and there are affiliate links in this post.