The last time I read a food allergy book like this, I ended up hosting a fundraiser to raise over $2,500 to purchase the book for every single school library in our district! The “Preschool Food Allergy Handbook” authored by Gina Minnett Lee, M.Ed and Lauren Francouer, Esq., is right up there in my I-need-a-grant-or-fundraiser category to buy a boat load of these books for my community. Food Allergies are so confusing, so when a book comes along that gives clarity about creating a safe and inclusive environment, I get excited. Even though the book is focused on Preschools, the data contained pertains to many aspects of food allergy management-this is what thrilled me. My kids are long past preschool and I found myself photocopying several pages! I could have used this 14 years ago and I can use it now. I feel like scratching out the name Preschool and typing in preschool and beyond. Co-author, Laurel, shared with me, “there aren’t any other resources out there for preschools to turn to. They are the first line of providers with our kids, and they are looking for guidance on how to adapt their environment to be allergy-aware. We also hope parents will learn from this book, too, about their rights and ideas they can suggest to their own preschool”. Special Note: Support Group leaders…be ready for a great fundraising offer to be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 13th (hint: your group members can buy the book while 20% gets donated to the group!).
Me, Laurel, Gina and Jan at Fablogcon 2014.
Disclaimer: I’m horrifically biased. It’s ridiculous. I had the honor of presenting alongside these two ladies at the 2014 Food Allergy Blogger Conference and they are the ones I turn to for legal expertise, educational advise (504 plans) and to talk me down from the ledge when I am overwhelmed. I explicitly respect and trust them wholeheartedly. I received a copy after begging to see the book and was not asked to write about them or to write nice things.
What are the reasons that Preschool Food Allergy Handbook has me running for the photo copy machine?
- The chapters are short and VERY easy to read and understand.
- The section on Challenges addresses Parents AND Providers .
- I find nothing more powerful than vetted statistics and research and yes, they have a chapter on this subject–they even have citations through out the book (a personal favorite).
- The chapter on creating a Food Allergy Management and Prevention Plans guides you through establishing your priorities, provides the opportunity to practice writing a plan and then invites you to compare it to their example.
- You are guided through establishing school and parent responsibilities.
- The handbook includes workbook pages, so you can organize your thoughts, priorities and plans.
- Terms for how children might express an allergic reaction are covered, such as “my throat feels thick”- obviously very important and often overlooked information.
- Label reading, emergency preparedness, staff training, cross contact and laws are reviewed. Did you know that the Americans With Disability Act does NOT cover preschools operated by religious organizations? I learned many new things in this short and powerful chapter, including details about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- The Use of Epinephrine form is gold. I plan on using this form for both home and school use.
- In addition to parent checklists, self evaluation checklists and even questions provided for you to use when speaking to preschools.
- Resources, posters and downloads were all noted and organized into one section for easy access.
When I asked Gina about applying this book to other situations, she answered, “I would recommend this book to any educator or parent that wants to understand best practices for food allergy management. The philosophy remains the same and the management techniques can be applied to any setting, i.e. home, extra curricular activities, children’s play areas, recreational centers, you name it….”. Laurel and Gina’s partnership come about after they presented a very popular and well received webinar about preschools and food allergies for Food Allergy Research and Education.. Laurel explained, “We met and realized we had skills that complemented each other. Gina has a masters in education and has worked as a teacher and in special education. I am a lawyer. We both are parents of children with food allergies. We realized that together we could be very effective in helping people learn about food allergies at school – me with the legal side and her with her knowledge of the school setting”. I couldn’t agree more–they both are experts in their areas but when dealing with any type of school setting these two areas need to be complimentary with each other.
Bias aside, this is truly the first food allergy workbook I’ve ever had the pleasure to read and review. I feel that I could take immediate action and improve the quality my own advocating for my child after reading this book. The information was presented very matter of fact and led me to believe I can do this and do it well.
Bravo and congratulations to Laurel and Gina for realizing the need for a food allergy workbook and for pooling your talents and expertise to create this tool, Preschool Food Allergy Handbook. Your book will save lives and help preschools (and other schools) across our nation create the best first step in a child’s education!
p.s. I am an Amazon affiliate and if you click on the links above and purchase Preschool Food Allergy Handbook, I’ll receive a small commission.