Just in time for National Diabetes Awareness Month, a local mom recently released a children’s book to help explain diabetes to kids.
Teddy Talks: A Paws-itive Story about Type 1 Diabetes is a picture book told through the perspective of a loveable dog, Teddy, who goes on adventures with his human, Emily, who has Type 1 Diabetes. The book follows the duo as they help Emily track her sugar levels throughout the day.
Vanessa Messenger, a mother of two who has Type 1 Diabetes and knows firsthand how challenging it can be to explain the condition to kids, wrote Teddy Talks with the goal of creating optimism and a sense of belonging for kids living with Type 1 Diabetes.
“When someone is first diagnosed, it can be intimidating and isolating to think of daily injections, carb counting, and blood sugar testing,” says Messenger. “Through Teddy Talks, I wanted to create a positive story that kids can reference to feel as connected and inspired as I was by the possibility of living an active and healthy lifestyle.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 1.6 million Americans have Type 1 Diabetes, including about 187,000 children. Messenger says Teddy Talks offers an optimistic look at life for kids living with Type 1 Diabetes or for those watching a loved one or classmate manage the condition.
In fact, Teddy Talks includes a glossary to consolidate common terms a child may hear in association with the condition, which Messenger hopes will help parents explain the diagnosis to kids in a way they can better understand.
“My goal is to normalize the condition for children who are diagnosed and help shed light on some of the misconceptions around Type 1 Diabetes,” says Messenger. “I hope kids who are Type 1 diabetics, or know someone who is a Type 1 Diabetic, will gain confidence in their understanding of the condition and become inspired to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
Messenger hopes the message of Teddy Talks will reach far and wide in the Type 1 Diabetes community. She recently donated 100 books to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, which will be distributed to newly diagnosed patients.
“Having educational resource books like Teddy Talks, which are targeted at helping kids understand their diagnosis, are so important to patient coping and adjustment,” said Maureen Stys, manager for Child Life & Volunteer Services at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “They help break concepts down to a kid’s level, act as a great reference to keep looking back to as they continue to learn, and provide stories that kids can identify with and see themselves in.”
You can purchase Teddy Talks: A Paws-itive Story About Type 1 Diabetes, for $9.99 (paperback) wherever books are sold. Visit Messenger’s website for more information along with free coloring sheets and activity pages.
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