Whenever I’ve needed a kid’s perspective, I turn to Sarah of No, Whey Mama. Her daughter Katherine has had a severe milk allergy since birth, and she read her way through numerous dairy-free children’s books over the years. Some were specifically for milk allergies, while others more broadly covered allergies or social challenges related to special diets.
Since the holidays are approaching, we decided to gather together highlights from Sarah and Katherine’s favorite dairy-free children’s book reviews. Perhaps they will inspire as gift ideas for food allergic kids, their friends, their parents, or even classroom teachers. Since Katherine is now a teen, and helps her mom create recipes for our Kids Can Cook section, she hasn’t reviewed some of the more current titles. Fortunately, I have! I write book reviews for Allergic Living magazine and cover many children’s books. I’ve stumbled across many gems and have included those here, too.
Dairy-Free Children’s Books
There are actually a few titles that very directly target dairy-free. That isn’t to downplay the other food allergy-friendly children’s books in the next section. Those are great for milk allergic or intolerant kids, too. But these have that extra element that relates specifically to the confusing world of dairy.
This book was on heavy rotation in Sarah’s house for many weeks after it arrived. A Christmas book! About dairy allergies! Clearly this was written for her family.
After the first two readings (one right after the other), Katherine kept saying, “Santa is just like me! He can’t have dairy–just like me!” Eli loved the cartoon-y drawings, especially the ones of “Ho ho ho” (Santa).
While they had read books about other allergies, this was their first dairy-only book, which Katherine loved. And the fact that it’s about Santa is the icing on the dairy-free cake.
This adorable book definitely hits the mark. As a first-grader, Katherine found the Seuss-esque rhyme scheme and repeating refrain (“Staying safe from dairy is my goal, So I will not touch it with a 10-foot pole!”) easy to read. And two-year-old Eli liked the cute drawings by illustrator Adi Rom. I like the positive, upbeat message and the allergy-related information for parents included in the back of the book.
In addition to the book, there is also a video available for purchase. It is done in a Reading Rainbow style; the narrator reads the story while the camera pans in and out over the book’s illustrations.
More Recommended Dairy-Free Children’s Books
I’ve heard good things about the following dairy-free children’s books. But since we haven’t read them yet, we can’t weigh in with any personal review notes.
Jude the Dude Has A Halloween Party (Jude Learns About Milk and Cheese Allergies)
Great Allergy-Friendly Children’s Books in General
These may not be titled specifically as dairy-free children’s books, but each one has a lot to offer kids with milk allergies, multiple food allergies, or intolerance. They all cover the challenges that little ones can go through when they have any type of limitation. Some of the writing below is excerpted from my original reviews for Allergic Living magazine.
Popular children’s book author Lori Nichols brings the everyday challenges of two young sisters to life. In this seasonal tale, the pair gets to pick their very first live Christmas tree, but they soon discover that it makes Maple sneezy. It isn’t a story of food allergies specifically, but a Christmas delight that covers seasonal allergies in a way that I think carries over to all allergies nicely. Not to mention, I think there are many milk allergic kids with hay fever out there!
The simple, sweet writing shares both sides of the story, including the emotions of anger, acceptance and compassion that non-allergic sister Willow goes through. And in the end, a small gesture shows us all what the holiday spirit is really about.
Kids with milk allergies often feel misunderstood. But this book sheds light on how others may be dealing with even more obscure allergies. Leading food allergens get top billing on the labeling law red carpet, and consequently receive the most acknowledgements in schools, restaurants and even among friends. But this adorable children’s book demonstrates why all triggers deserve equal recognition.
Offering solace to kids with rarer allergic reactions and education to those without, the author intertwines an impressive array of players, from wasps, exercise and penicillin to beef, squash and plum. Her lyrical writing style encourages fun interaction between the whimsical prose and the bright illustrations, which offer fun star-spotting appeal.
This is probably my favorite children’s book for food allergies to date. The narrative follows a howler monkey through diagnosis of his food allergy to, of all things, bananas. Typically tough issues, like visiting an allergist for a skin-prick test, are softened with the use of comforting animals and warm illustrations. And though cutting out a key dietary food seems daunting, Blue discovers another delicious option and quickly values feeling good above all. I think this message is key for milk allergic kids, since dairy is so pervasive in our society.
The title and beautifully sketched cover of this touching tale paint a slightly somber story. It’s true that moms may get a little teary-eyed, but only due to the happy ending that greets Blue.
Bound to become a hardcover classic, this whimsical tale cross-pollinates human food allergies with an adorable flying insect scenario. The take home message isn’t dairy-specific, but is intended to help kids understand the essence of living with a restriction.
HumFree’s “food allergy” is to yellow and blue flowers, but he learns from his mama and cousin who have the same allergies how he can enjoy the pollen of so many other plants. Once HumFree is “liberated” from his food allergy, he enjoys feeling healthy and plays with his friends on the pinks, oranges, greens and purples instead.
This book starts with a brief discussion of how children are different from one another, then moves into a specific discussion of food allergies and the struggles and emotions that go along with them. The book is addressed to children with allergies, but I think other children could learn from it, too. Then–genius. Gina writes that food allergies won’t stop you from being what you want to be, and she includes photos of famous people who have food allergies, such as Jerome Bettis and Dr. Robert Wood. She ends by writing, “You are here for a very special purpose! I wonder what it is.” *Cue Parental Crying*
More than any other allergy book we have read, this book prompted discussions about the emotions that go along with being a child with a food allergy. Katherine talked a lot about the page that says, “You might wish that you didn’t have food allergies and that you could eat whatever you wanted.” Her favorite photo is one of happy children eating ice pops, with the caption, “When other grown-ups bring treats that are safe for you, it’s terrific!”
More Recommended Allergy-Free Children’s Books
These allergy-friendly children’s books have received kudos from some food allergy moms that I know. But since our little team hasn’t read them yet, we can’t weigh in with any personal review notes.
- The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies
- You Can’t Always Tell!
- Allergy Tales: A Birthday Party
- Food Allergies and Me
- Joey Panda and His Food Allergies Save the Day
- Patty’s Secret: A Tale About Living with Food Allergies
- What Treat Can Ruben Eat?
- Can I Have Some Cake Too?