Books are a great way of starting a discussion about eczema with both kids who have it and those who don’t. But which one is right for the kids you want to talk to? While there isn’t a huge range of options, it’s difficult to know which book will engage your audience and which will languish on the bookshelf. The ScratchSleeves team have rounded up a gang of junior reviewers, spent a small fortune on Amazon and put the most readily available kids eczema books to the test in our ‘Eczema Book Reviews’…
What do you need to talk about?
Before you start shopping it helps to have a good idea of what you need your book about eczema to achieve. This will vary depending on whether or not your audience has much experience of eczema as well as how old they are.
Most children living with eczema will have a pretty good idea about the practicalities of dealing with eczema but may well need help with dealing with other people’s reactions to their appearance.
Kids without eczema will need a book which covers facts that eczema kids take for granted. Facts like: it’s not contagious; what it feels like to have eczema; that it varies both over time and between people; what makes it worse; and, what can make it better.
It’s also hugely important that the books are engaging. Children love a good story but have very little time for a bad one. If a primary school child has to sit still and listen to a lame story about a character with eczema there’s a risk that they will associate that bad experience with the one child in the class with eczema.
Best book for explaining eczema to pre-schoolers
A sweet and engaging story about Emmy the dinosaur and her itchy skin. The story explains why Emmy’s skin is sore, that eczema isn’t catching, what can make eczema worse and things that can make it feel better.
This book helps young children with eczema understand what might make their skin more itchy and why their creams are helpful (even though they can feel yucky). It’s also great for helping non-eczema kids understand what eczema kids are going through. I wish I’d known about this book when Max was tiny, it would have really helped his older cousins.
The teaching points are well disguised within the story and the kids loved the pictures. Our only reservation is the number of times Emmy’s friends tell her not to scratch – which even the youngest eczema sufferer will tell you is deeply annoying.
Best eczema book for primary school children
This book is a great factual book explaining simply, and with non-scary photos, what eczema is and how it can be managed and treated. There’s a section on famous people with eczema and how it affects them. Brad Pitt’s eczema is aggravated by make-up – who knew! But perhaps the most useful page is about how to be a good friend to someone with eczema. Interestingly, the non-eczema kids who read this book really engaged with this section.
Reading the comments left under our post about teaching kids how to deal with teasing about their eczema, we realised just how important it is that schools talk about eczema (and other conditions) in structured sessions. This book is a great starting point for circle-time or PSHE session.
This book is unique for this age group in that it doesn’t use animal characters. This is relevant as recent research has shown that realistic stories with human characters, rather than anthropomorphic ones, are more effective at promoting kind and considerate behaviour in children of this age.
Best book about eczema for middle school kids
The MediKidz gang of superheroes explain how skin works normally and why eczema skin is different, how eczema is treated and how the treatments work, and what can make it worse.
This books was a huge hit with our middle school readers. They loved the graphic novel format and really took on board the explanations. The artwork is fantastic and while the story is a bit contrived it’s got plenty of humour and pace to maintain interest. The book is packed with easy to digest information in both words and pictures. It works well for both eczema kids and non-eczema kids – both were fascinated by the brilliant explanation of the differences between healthy and eczema skin (and how emollients can help).
MediKidz is series of books written by a team of doctors and specialists about a huge range of medical conditions from dwarfism to ADHD. We’ve been so impressed with this one that they will be our first port of call next time we get one of those ‘Mummy what’s wrong with…?’ questions.
Best fictional character with eczema
The Bizarre and Wonderful World of Eczema Boy – Peter Terrence (middle school and up)
Reed Taylor has special powers. He has the ability to read the minds of the elderly and he can alter people’s hairstyles by looking at them. He’s also an inventor. Reed has only one notable problem: his eczema. He and his rock group of social misfits take to the skies in their magical hot-air balloon to investigate their evil teacher, Mrs. Bunions. She’s always on at him about his skin and so too is Andy Baxter – the school’s biggest bully. Can Reed and his band solve the mystery.
This funny and positive story underlines how some children may appear different but they shouldn’t be treated differently. Reed and his friends deal with the bullies and get on with their own lives in their own way. The kids really enjoyed this book, especially as the school bully and evil teacher get their comeuppance.
A wildcard for older kids
Wonder – RJ Palacio (middle school and up)
This amazing book is being made into a film, you’ve probably seen the trailer. Our junior reviewers were blown away by this story of a boy born with a deformed face when, aged 10, he goes to school for the first time. Our adult reviewers couldn’t put the this book down either! It’s not a book about eczema, but the issues it tackles are remarkably similar to those facing our eczema kids. If you can, read the book before you see the film.
Not so popular in our eczema book reviews
Rachel has Eczema – Jenny Leigh (pre-school and primary)
We had high hopes for this book as it’s endorsed by the National Eczema Society. However, while the story is aimed at children who are about to start school, there’s an awful lot of text on each page and the story is complicated to follow. That said, the grown-ups had a good chuckle when no-nonsense Mrs Frog took over-protective Mrs Hippo in hand. This book is probably most useful for younger eczema sufferers who are being introduced to wet-wrapping.
Can I tell you about Eczema? Julie Collier (middle school and above)
This book is packed with information but it doesn’t have the appeal of the MediKidz book. For kids without eczema, there is way too much information. Whereas kids with eczema will know most of it already. It would probably be most useful for bookish older siblings and close relatives of a recently diagnosed eczema child. It could also have a place in helping older eczema kids take control of their own eczema. That said, I do wonder how thoroughly it has been reviewed by the medical community as it perpetuates the myth that the enzymes in biological washing detergents can trigger eczema (it’s the optical brighteners, fragrances and even the detergent itself which can cause problems). One of our junior reviewers had us laughing ourselves into stitches when he described it as ‘Like one of those boring books they put at the back of churches to try and make children care about God’.
The Itchy Kids Club – Silly Poems for Itchy Kids – Jill Grabowski (primary and middle school)
We were hoping for a book of short and silly rhymes which would make cream applications more fun. What we actually got was 21, mostly long-ish, poems complaining about allergies. The kids were nonplussed.
Fairy Pox – Emily Martha Sorensen (middle school)
A slightly odd story about a girl with an itchy allergy to fairies. The only useful point it makes is that being itchy can make you grumpy, and this can make mean people don’t want to be friends with you anymore.
Here at ScratchSleeves we don’t just share our experiences of bringing up an eczema child and favourite allergy friendly recipes, we also manufacturer and sell our unique stay-on scratch mitts and PJs for itchy babies, toddlers and children. We now stock sizes from 0-16 years in a range of colours. Visit www.ScratchSleeves.co.uk for more information.