Hailey’s Gluten Free Surprise: Helping Others Understand Gluten Free

| August 4, 2016


Hailey's Gluten Free Surprise: Helping Others Understand Gluten Free

For someone who doesn’t need to follow a strict gluten free diet (or care for someone who does) it can be a difficult diet to understand. After all, the word “diet” usually means “cheat a little.” For a person with celiac, 100% adherence is very important. Yes, a crumb can make a difference. And this is the purpose of this “children’s” book, to help the important adults in the lives of gluten free children understand what gluten is, and to see that students and grandchildren who need to be gluten free don’t want to be left out of food related celebrations, even if it means eating something different.

‘Hailey’s Gluten Free Surprise: Helping Others Understand Gluten Free’ (and the identical boys’ version, ‘Adam’s Gluten Free Surprise’) follows Hailey through her first six months of a new school year after being diagnosed with celiac disease. She is very accepting of her medically required diet, offering a, “that’s OK,” when she cannot be included in a special treat that her peers can enjoy. But her good nature, which offers children with special diets a positive role model, turns sad at times, as is only natural when a person feels left out, or when they cannot eat something that looks and smells good.

In the end, Hailey’s teacher and peers understand a bit more about gluten. They secretly plan to make their Valentine’s Day party completely gluten free so she can be included. While this certainly won’t happen in every classroom, the purpose of this story is to help promote empathy and understanding. ‘Hailey’s Gluten Free Surprise’ is about the acceptance that is required by the child with a special diet and it is about the understanding that is required by those who are important parts of his or her life.

*Teachers, if one of your students requires a gluten free diet, please ask him or her first before reading this book to the entire class. While some children are thrilled to share a book that is about themselves, some children don’t want to be the focus. But please do read it for yourself; your understanding of gluten free is very important.


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