Search form

Home > Books in Education Center > Archives > Special Education > Books in Education Article

B O O K S   I N   E D U C A T I O N     A R T I C L E

Special Books for Special Kids!

JayJo Books has found its niche as a publisher of books written to teach elementary school children about their classmates or others who might be living with a chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy.

Diabetes Book Cover

"Publishing Special Books for Special Kids"

That's the slogan that appears on the latest promotion materials from JayJo Books---and an appropriate slogan it is! Publisher/author Kim Gosselin has some very "special" books indeed!

JayJo Books came to life one winter morning in 1992. On that day Gosselin learned that her oldest boy, Jayson, had insulin-dependent diabetes.

After the initial shock, the family set to dealing with Jayson's diagnosis. Jayson's "great attitude" helped a lot, says Gosselin.

Jayson was the only student in his elementary school who had diabetes, so Gosselin searched for materials---nontechnical materials---that she might share with Jayson's teachers and classmates. She found nothing!

Then, one day, while playing baseball in the front yard, one of Jayson's friends asked him "How's your rabies?" That's when Gosselin knew she had to fill that "nontechnical materials" void. That's when she wrote "Taking Diabetes to School."

Gosselin hoped the book would help Jayson's classmates understand what diabetes was, what its symptoms were, and how Jayson was able to keep his diabetes under control. The book's simple text (which most kids with diabetes could read aloud to their classmates) and its bright and colorful illustrations teach kids about this chronic condition---beautifully!.


When I do have an asthma episode, I might act differently than I normally do. Breathing in and out sometimes gets very hard. I might start to cough or choke. My chest may feel tight and my skin might turn pale or get sweaty . . . Please tell the teacher if you see me act this way. I need to use my inhaler fast when I'm having an asthma episode. . . . After a few minutes, I'm usually back to my old self again!
---from "Taking Asthma to School"

Asthma Book Cover
Kim Gosselin's younger son, Justin, has asthma. Just as she found with diabetes, materials written for kids about asthma were few and far between. So her second book project tackled asthma---a chronic problem for millions of U.S. kids. The book introduces students to the vocabulary of asthma (lungs, bronchial tubes, asthma "episode," and asthma "trigger") and to the tools a child with asthma might use to control the condition (an inhaler, a spacer, and a peak-flow meter). The book includes an "Asthma Kids Quiz!" on its final pages.

Taking Asthma to School was designed to be read aloud in the child's classroom by a parent, the teacher, or a nurse---or by the child! "Make it a fun and special event," Gosselin suggests in the preface to her book. "You may even want to incorporate a 'show and tell' period, by using some of the items depicted in the book."

All of Gosselin's manuscripts are reviewed by medical experts, and a portion of the money earned from the sale of the books goes toward medical research.

"It's important to educate people when they're young," Gosselin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1995. "I can't say how good it makes me feel to help other families, and at the same time work toward finding a cure for illnesses and a better life for kids."


JayJo Books now has a handful of titles:

  • Taking Diabetes to School
  • Taking Asthma to School
  • Taking Seizure Disorders to School: A Story About Epilepsy
  • Taking Asthma to Camp: A Fictional Story About Asthma Camp
  • Zoo Allergy: A Fun Story About Allergy and Asthma Triggers

To order or for information about any of these titles, contact your local bookstore or library; write the publisher directly at JayJo Books, P.O. Box 213, St. Louis, MO 63088-0213, or call (800) 801-0159.

And, coming this fall from JayJo Books:

  • Sportercise! A Story About Exercise-Induced Asthma
  • Smoking STINKS!

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1997 Education World