Using Children’s Books to Help Manage Health Issues

Children with health issues – as well as their parents, families and other caregivers – can face unwelcome changes to their daily routines and relationships. What’s more, the challenge of explaining to young children what’s happening to them can be another source of strain. But for kids with food allergies, asthma, diabetes and other illnesses, the right books can help alleviate the mental and emotional burdens that accompany an illness.

Not only do these books provide knowledge and comfort, they can also be incorporated into precious read-aloud bonding time between a parent and child. And, when they’re shared with other children and adults, these books can help give others insight into experiences and struggles that can be difficult to talk about.

Below are a few titles and brief descriptions of children’s books that do a nice job of addressing health issues. To find even more health-related children’s books, try searching online, or ask your child’s doctor or librarian for suggestions. You might even consider creating your own story to suit your child’s needs. A number of children’s books dealing with health issues were written by loved ones who were inspired by the brave children in their lives.

Food Allergies

Mangos for Max by Jessica St. Louis
Written by a mother whose children have multiple food allergies, Mangos for Max is a fun, colorful, educational book that follows cheerful Max as he goes about his day. He is very much like all the other monkeys except in one important way: at snack time, he must eat mangos instead of bananas.


Peter, the Knight with Asthma by Janna Matthies
Peter has to take a break from protecting his castle when he needs to use his rescue inhaler and visit the doctor with his mother. Peter then learns how to take care of himself so that he can stay strong and keep fighting dragons. Playful illustrations and a special section for parents make this book appealing to multiple members of the family.


Staying Healthy by A. R. Schaefer
With engaging photos and accessible text, Staying Healthy is a nonfiction book that covers a variety of topics: healthy eating, exercise, good hygiene, keeping safe, mental health and sleep. The importance of these healthy habits is explained in clear, child-friendly ways.


I Have Diabetes by Karri Andersen
Created by the mother of a child with Type 1 (or juvenile) diabetes, this book tells the story of one little girl’s diabetes diagnosis and its effect on her everyday routines. With up-to-date information, friendly illustrations and easy-to-understand language, this book is appropriate for young children and their families.


Yesterday I Had the Blues by Jeron Ashford Frame
In this award-winning book, a boy explores the ranges of moods and emotions that he and his family members feel. He learns that even the bluest moods do not last, especially with the love and support from a family that makes it feel all “golden.”

Severe Illness

Little Tree: A Story for Children with Serious Medical Illness by Dr. Joyce C. Mills
When a powerful storm suddenly hits the forest, Little Tree is never the same. A story of her acceptance and healing, Little Tree learns that she is a strong tree who will be happy again. The second edition of this book contains valuable notes for parents and families from both the author and clinical psychologist, Jane Annunziata, PsyD.