Detroit, MI - Orthodox Mother Pens Kid’s Book To Tackle Food Allergies In Jewish Community
Detroit, MI - As many yeshivos continue to institute “peanut free” policies in response to the rising incidence of food allergies nationwide, a new Jewish children’s book presents an educational and age appropriate look at the topic designed to teach even young children about peanut allergies.
Pinny the Peanut Learns About Allergies was written by Detroit resident Rochel Burstyn, the mother of several children with food allergies. Attempting to find a way to explain food allergies to her children, Mrs. Burstyn quickly discovered that none of the literature available at her own public library presented the information in a “kid-friendly” manner. The author of three other children’s books and the mother of seven, Mrs. Burstyn decided to write a book of her own, following a peanut as it is harvested, transformed into peanut butter and finally makes its way into the immune system of an allergic child.
“There was just no book like it out there that explained allergies in a fun and interesting way that all kids could benefit from,” Mrs. Burstyn told VIN News.
Two of Mrs. Burstyn’s two food allergic children have outgrown their allergies, but another child was diagnosed by as being allergic to almost every item that he was tested for, including fish, chicken and peanuts.
“He’s almost seven now and has been asking for years before he eats something, ‘Does this have peanuts in it?’” said Mrs. Burstyn. “That’s the best thing to do for your kid, I think. Empower them with the knowledge of what makes them sick and how not to get sick.”
Pinny the Peanut Learns About Food Allergies is a 29 page hardcover, fully illustrated book published by Feldheim Publishers and released in mid-June.
Written in a light hearted style while discussing a subject matter than can have serious and potentially fatal complications for some, the book speaks to all children, not just those with food allergies. A forward by Dr. Jonathan D. Field, director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Beth Israel Medical Center, notes that while milk and egg allergies may be more prevalent than peanut allergies, allergic reactions to peanuts are rarely outgrown and reactions tend to be more severe.
Dr. Field also emphasizes that, as a community, we must be more aware of the dangers of food allergies in order to better protect our children in our shuls, schools and other community institutions. Pinny the Peanut offers children and easily understood behind the scenes look at what takes place during an allergic reaction in an affected person and several fun facts about both peanut and allergic reactions.
The incidence of food allergies in children has risen dramatically in recent years, with a 2013 study released by the Center for Disease Control noting an approximately 50 percent increase between 1997 and 2011.
“Even if you or your family don’t have allergies, surely you know someone who does,” said Mrs. Burstyn. “I believe that most preschools are nut free today. The book is beneficial for every kid in these schools to understand why they can’t bring in their favorite sandwich and what a mitzvah they are doing by not bringing it in.”
Mrs. Burstyn hopes that Pinny the Peanut will increase awareness and understanding about allergies and will minimize the stigma that some food allergic children feel, particularly those whose allergies prevent their classmates from bringing staples like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Bamba to school.
“Kids shouldn’t feel embarrassed or guilty that their class can’t eat something because of them and kids should understand why they can’t have peanuts or other allergens in the classroom,” explained Mrs. Burstyn.
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