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Books for children with chronic illnesses

When chronic illness is part of a child's life, the problems go beyondthe physical symptoms. Children with illnesses like asthma, diabetes, orcerebral palsy often feel isolated, "different," and lonely. Siblingshave special problems, too. Stories about other children who have the samedifficulties can be very helpful. Learning that their experiences are sharedwith others can help children acknowledge the illness, accept their feelings,and put up with the restrictions chronic illness may impose. This secondinstallment of Bookshelf is designed to help pediatricians recommend booksthat are suitable for the age and circumstances of a particular child. Readersare invited to distribute copies of Bookshelf to families in their practicewithout permission from the publisher. Additional suggestions can be foundon the Internet site called Bandaids and Blackboards,

--Deborah Rivlin, MA

Virginia Aldape: Nicole's Story: A Book about a Girl with Juvenile RheumatoidArthritis. Minneapolis, Lerner Publications, 1996. Eight-year-old Nicoleshares her difficulties and triumphs, including the time she skated in theSpecial Olympics. Ages 5 to 10.

Carol Antoinette: Sugar Was My Best Food. Morton Grove, IL, Albert Whitmanand Co., 1998. Adair's true story tells how he learns to cope with havingdiabetes, from initial diagnosis to his experiences in a special camp forchildren with diabetes and his daily life in school. Ages 9 to 12.

Thomas Bergman: Going Places: Children Living With Cerebral Palsy. Milwaukee,Gareth Stevens Children's Books, 1991. Six-year-old Mathias, who was bornwith cerebral palsy, tells his story in text and black and white photographs.Ages 9 to 12; can be read to younger children.

Alden and Siri Carter: I'm Tougher than Asthma! Morton Grove, IL, AlbertWhitman and Co., 1996. Color photographs help Siri tell the true story ofwhat it's like to have asthma. She talks about the things she is allergicto, what she does to prevent attacks, and how she copes with having a chronicillness. Ages 4 to 8.

Charlotte Casterline: The Asthma Attack by Bo B. Bear. New York, Info-AllBook Co., 1998. After experiencing an acute attack, Pete and his favoritestuffed animal, Bo B. Bear, learn together how to cope with asthma. Thebook is written in simple, easy-to-read language young children can understand.Ages 3 to 5.

Michelle Emmert: I'm the Big Sister Now. Morton Grove, IL, Albert Whitmanand Co., 1991. Nine-year-old Michelle talks about the hard times and thegood times of living with her older sister, Amy, who is severely disabledby cerebral palsy. Ages 7 to 11.

Joan Fassler: Howie Helps Himself. New York, Albert Whitman and Co.,1991. Howie has cerebral palsy and is dependent on other people to helphim get around. His goal is to be able to move his wheelchair by himself.Children will be interested to see whether he succeeds. Ages 4 to 8.

Kim Gosselin: Sportsercise: A School Story about Exercise-induced Asthma.Valley Park, MO., JayJo Books, 1997. Justin and Ashley both have asthma.They describe the medication they take to prevent exercise-induced asthma,so they have a chance to compete against a rival team in the school's sportsercise.Ages 6 to 9.

Joshua Grishaw: My Heart Is Full of Wishes. Chatham, NJ, Raintree-SteckVaughn, 1995. A boy with cystic fibrosis talks about his wishes and hopes.Ages 4 to 8.

Kelly Huegel: Young People and Chronic Illness: True Stories, Help, andHope. Minneapolis, Free Spirit Publications, 1998. Children with hemophilia,asthma, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, cancer, and spina bifida talkabout their lives. Ages 9 to 12.

Miriam Kaufman: Easy for You to Say: Questions and Answers for TeensLiving with Chronic Illness or Disability. Toronto, Key Porter Books Ltd.,1995. Teens with illnesses as different as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis,and muscular dystrophy have common concerns. The author answers questionsabout family relationships, medical issues, and sexuality. Teens to youngadult.

Jonathan London: The Lion Who Had Asthma. Morton Grove, IL, Albert Whitmanand Co., 1997. Sean loves to pretend. When he has an asthma attack, he pretendshe is a pilot and the nebulizer is his pilot's mask. When he is breathingeasily again, he pretends he is a lion who can roar. Ages 3 to 6.

Lurlene McDaniel: A Time to Die. Kara is 16. She questions why she wasborn with cystic fibrosis and worries about her future. An anonymous benefactorcomes into her life and promises to grant her one wish. Ages 12 and up.

Linnea Mulder: Sarah and Puffle: A Story for Children about Diabetes.New York, Magination Press, 1992. Sarah dreams that Puffle, her toy lamb,can talk to her, sing, and dance. Puffle helps Sarah understand that althoughshe has diabetes, she can still have a normal, happy life. Ages 4 to 8.

William and Vivian Ostrow: All About Asthma. This is the true story ofWilliam and how he felt when he was 8 years old and had his first asthmaattack. He talks about how frightening an attack can be, clears up somecommon misconceptions, and gives tips kids with asthma can use to help themtake part in all the things kids like to do. Ages 6 to 10.

Kathy Parkinson: My Sister Rose has Diabetes. New York, Health Press,1997. The child who is sick isn't the only family member affected by chronicillness. In this story, Rose's brother talks about feeling forgotten whenRose seems to get all the attention. Ages 8 to 12.

Connie White Pirner: Even Little Kids Get Diabetes. Morton Grove, IL,Albert Whitman and Co., 1991. Through wonderful illustrations and simpletext a young girl with diabetes talks about symptoms, treatments, and dailyliving. Ages 3 to 8.

THE AUTHOR is Coordinator of the Good Grief Program of Boston MedicalCenter and Director of The Circle, a bereavement support group for childrenand their families.

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