From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Allergies

Whether your child suffers from allergies or not, there’s an opportunity to teach inclusion and empathy.

Dec 10, 2021



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Kids About Allergies

Dec 10, 2021

Allergies are a part of life for many children. Allergic reactions occur when the body’s immune system, which is designed to fight off germs and illness, responds to otherwise harmless material like food, fur, or pollen. 

Children with severe allergies may find their school experience is slightly different from that of other kids, as they’ll need to take preventative measures to avoid allergy triggers. They may have to sit out certain activities with other children or miss certain life experiences entirely, like having a pet. 

To help reduce the stress around allergies, it’s important to remind your child that allergies are common and everyone reacts differently to allergens. Helping your child create a personalized plan for managing their allergies can empower them. 

If your child does not suffer from allergies, but has a sibling or friend who does, you can discuss how to be more mindful of those individuals and their needs. Accommodating and showing empathy toward those with allergies goes a long way toward making them feel included in everyday activities. 

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about allergies easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

When you’re ready to talk about your child’s allergies with them, and devise a plan for their well-being, you can include the following resources in your discussion. Of course, always consult your child’s doctor with any questions or concerns regarding their health and well-being.

For more quick tips and book recommendations, sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter!

Articles for allergy sufferers

Reading about another child’s experience with allergies may help your child feel more at ease. Seventeen-year-old Katherine tells Scholastic Choices magazine how she copes with severe allergies to several foods, including dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. When Katherine comes into contact with any of her allergens, she risks having an anaphylactic reaction — her airways can close up, making it impossible for her to breathe. She does carry an EpiPen, a one-dose shot of a life-saving medicine called epinephrine, in case of emergency, but she must still navigate her world carefully every day to avoid cross-contamination.

After years of feeling isolated and ostracized because of her allergies — sitting at the allergy-free table in the cafeteria, bringing her own food to friends’ birthday parties—Katherine decides to do something about her self-consciousness. Around 6th grade, she attends a conference for teens with allergies, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), where she learns tips for caring for herself and educating others. The conference inspires Katherine to be her own ambassador for change. She goes on to start a website, Teen Food Allergies & Anti-Bullying (Teen FAAB), as well as a YouTube cooking show with her mom and sisters called "Cooking With Kat."

Food is just one category of allergen that can trigger a dramatic response from our immune systems — and as we learn from Katherine’s story, much diligence is required to patrol it. But some allergies are unavoidable: Those allergic to pollen and ragweed have a reaction just by going outside or even opening a window. “Sneeze Season,” in Scholastic Math magazine, uses statistics to remind kids that outdoor allergy season begins when the temperature goes up. The article also cautions that those who are affected by outdoor allergens may face worse allergies, and for a longer period of time, if temps worldwide continue to climb. 

Young readers can use their critical thinking and map-reading skills to answer data-related questions at the end of the article.

Fiction books for allergy sufferers

A Scholastic best-seller in graphic-novel format, Allergic tells the tale of Maggie, who, feeling left out of her family’s everyday routines, decides a new puppy is the solution to her solitude. In a be-careful-what-you-wish-for twist, however, Maggie learns she is allergic to anything with fur, complicating an already difficult situation. 

Weaving in themes of friendship and family, independence, and loneliness, Allergic is a relatable and comforting read for any child who’s received the difficult diagnosis of a life-altering allergy.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on allergies and other must-discuss topics. Shop all books and activities at The Scholastic Store
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