Got a kid with a summer reading assignment to complete? (Or maybe one who just has a little too much free time on his or her hands?) Picking up a book of their own choosing over summer vacation can be a way for kids to explore new worlds and realities—and maybe even realize they actually enjoy reading. For children with type 1 diabetes, choosing a novel centered around a protagonist with T1D offers a great opportunity to connect and learn more about their condition in a completely different way: through stories.
“Bibliotherapy, which means using books as an expressive therapy to help understand and cope with a diagnosis, is a great tool for children with diabetes,” says Stacy Haynes, a counseling psychologist at Little Hands Family Services in Turnersville, N.J., who works with children with diabetes.
Whether it’s a picture book, easy reader, or middle grade or young adult novel, when children read books that feature characters with diabetes, “it provides the benefit of seeing others just like them,” notes Haynes. Likewise, when characters with diabetes overcome certain issues, such as the struggle to fit in with friends or at school, the steps taken by characters in the story can model solutions the child can use in real life.
Need a few recommendations? Here are some selections published by Disney and Lilly Diabetes; ask your diabetes healthcare provider for a free copy or click here to read digital versions of these and other books by Disney and Lilly Diabetes.
Coco’s First Sleepover
The newest picture book in the popular Coco the Monkey series, Coco’s First Sleepover tells the story of Coco’s invitation to her cousin’s campout party. Her aunt Abby will be there to help her with her diabetes, and all of her friends will be there to play with. Soon Coco is having a ball, playing balloon basketball, eating pizza, and watching a movie under the stars. But when it’s time for bed, will Coco’s friends prove to be as ready for the sleepover as she is? Told in heartwarming Disney style, this is a reassuring read for newly diagnosed children and their families. The text’s reading level is perfect for a parent to read aloud or for solo reading by proficient younger readers.
New girl in town Morgan is thrilled to make a friend in Lizzie, but not so thrilled when she realizes Lizzie’s BFF Naomi views her as competition. Lizzie invites Morgan to a sleepover, which makes her excited, but also nervous. Morgan hasn’t slept over at anyone’s house since she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Can Morgan overcome her worries and Naomi’s jealousy? This tween novel is a great match for girls with type 1 dealing with their own insecurities and fears.
ESPN: Covering the Bases
Phillip is attending baseball camp this summer, something he’s been dreaming of for months. There’s just one problem: Phillip was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and is worried about spending so many nights away from home. What will he do if something goes wrong and there’s no one around to help? For sports-fanatic kids, this tween novel about bravery and overcoming obstacles hits all the bases.
ESPN: Up for the Challenge
Allie Campbell is a new starter on her soccer team and newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Can she really get back out on the field? Allie’s story of resuming the life she loves while managing her diabetes is one that will resonate with kids in upper elementary and middle school.
Looking for more ideas? Check out the complete list of diabetes-focused books for children produced by Disney and Lilly Diabetes, including other Coco and ESPN titles and more.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.