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It is essential to teach children that we are all unique in our own ways at a young age. Growing up “different” from the rest of your peers takes immense courage, strength, and resilience. We talked to two authors who wrote type 1 diabetes (T1D)-focused children’s books about why it is important to educate children about T1D.
“Rosie Becomes a Warrior” by Julia Flaherty
Julia Flaherty, who wrote and illustrated “Rosie Becomes a Warrior”, has personally lived with T1D for over 18 years and is heavily involved in the diabetes community. The story is loosely drawn on her own experience of growing up with diabetes and is intended to empower children with T1D to live their happiest and fullest lives. In her story, Rosie, an 8-year-old girl, develops common warning signs of T1D, which eventually leads her to a T1D diagnosis. Rosie now must navigate second grade with T1D and educate her peers about what diabetes is and how she takes care of her diabetes.
When asked why she felt it was important to write a children’s book, Julia shared that she has always dreamed of writing a book because writing is powerful and therapeutic. After the constant isolation that COVID-19 brought to the world, Julia found it vital to still chase her passion and fulfill a dream.
“Rosie Becomes a Warrior” touches on Rosie’s mental health and the significance of having a support system to help manage T1D. Mental health can be hard to navigate at any age, but it can be especially tough as a child. Being able to ask for the appropriate resources and coping tools is essential when dealing with this autoimmune disease, and Rosie sets an example for kids with T1D by being open with her peers.
Julia hopes that her book shows children that going through a T1D diagnosis doesn’t have to be lonely and that people can continue to live a full and happy life while managing T1D. She also hopes that Rosie’s story can help bring awareness to the warning signs of T1D.
“When I Go Low” by Ginger Vieira and Mike Lawson
Ginger Vieira, who has personally lived with T1D for over 20 years, partnered with fellow T1D community member Mike Lawson to illustrate her book, “When I Go Low.”
“When I Go Low” is about Jax the Cat, who lives with T1D and loves to participate in all the typical children’s activities. Jax goes for a walk throughout town to find other people who live with T1D that can help him explain what it physically feels like when a low blood sugar is coming on.
When asked about the impact she hoped her book would have within the T1D community, Ginger said her biggest hope is that it helps children with diabetes learn how to spot the symptoms of low blood glucose and then put words to those feelings so they can ask for help and treat the low safely and quickly. As a child living with T1D, it is hard to articulate the sense of a low blood sugar, and “When I Go Low” can help children by teaching them how to spot a low in a way that is fun and light and letting them know they’re not alone on this journey of navigating their diabetes.
These books can benefit children with T1D and without T1D, parents, siblings, and classmates by showing kids with T1D how to care and advocate for themselves. Being a child with T1D takes courage, patience and requires growing up faster than other children, but the T1D community will always be there to make things easier.
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