Meet the Author of Zoey has an Allergy
Did you know that May is Food Allergy Awareness Month in Canada? According to Food Allergy Canada, over 3 million Canadians are affected by food allergies, a whopping 7.5% of the population.
Our current Kids & Company families likely know that our Kidco Kitchen team works incredibly hard each day to ensure all of the food our children eat is free from major allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, whole eggs and shellfish. Beyond that, the Kidco Kitchen department reviews each child’s food restrictions and/or allergies and makes accommodations as necessary with parental consent. Accommodations include providing alternatives of equal nutritional value or omitting the ingredient that poses a danger to the child and/or the classroom in which they reside.
This allergy awareness month, we had the opportunity to interview the lovely and talented author, Anisha Angella. Anisha is a former Kids & Company Area Director, who led our teams in Ontario. Speaking to the experience, Anisha explains that the wonderful teams she worked with inspired her to continue her work as a leader in the field of early education.
Anisha’s first children’s book, Zoey has an Allergy, tells the story of Zoey, a spunky, curious five-year-old who is full of adventure and fun. Zoey tells us how she stays safe with her allergy and how you can, too! This book is a great resource for parents of children with allergies, intolerances and sensitivities.
Kids & Co: We asked Anisha, what led you to a career in early childhood education?
Anisha: As a young child I always wanted to be a teacher. I was fortunate enough to have many inspiring educators in my life. I took the leap into becoming an ECE in 2009 and realized I was directly in my calling. I started out as a lead preschool and toddler educator (my favourite age groups!) and then quickly discovered my love for leadership in the field where I took my advocacy for early education to another level taking on childcare leadership positions.
My drive comes from my passion to help and support families and children ... and to know that we have a bigger purpose in society by being the foundation for education for children. As early educators, we are each child’s first view of the world outside of the home.
Kids & Co: What was your inspiration for your book, Zoey has an Allergy?
Anisha: Zoey has an allergy was a project I had in mind for many years! As an educator, I always had a huge appreciation and love for children’s literature. So, it was obvious I would one day take the plunge to start my writing journey.
The story of Zoey was inspired by my own journey with food allergies. I am anaphylactic to tree nuts. I remember as a child not being able to confidently explain my allergies to my peers in a way they would understand.
Another reason was being a part of creating more diversity in children’s literature – seeing a child that looked like me as the main character of a book wasn’t a thing during my childhood. I wanted to change that.
As an educator, I have worked with many children who share the same story as me. I knew that I had to bridge the gap of knowledge in any way possible. That’s where Zoey has an Allergy was born!
Kids & Co: Why do you think representation is so important for children?
Anisha: Representation is vital because every child deserves to be able to relate to the world in a way that is positive and realistic. The early years are the time that children really build their confidence and knowledge of the world around them. Every child deserves to feel connected to characters they see on TV or in storybooks.
Kids & Co: What was your process when writing Zoey has an allergy? Who is the character of Zoey based on?
The process was a tough one! Dealing with being in my own way aka imposter syndrome (who am I to write a book??!) and COVID putting a wedge in between obtaining the physical copies – made it extremely difficult. But I have learned so much along the way – and I am so glad to share this story with the world! I am so glad to say that Zoey has now travelled all over the world (copies sold in the UK, U.S and Germany) and now on bookshelves at several indigo and chapters in Ontario.
Zoey is a little version of me!
Kids & Co: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I realized when I started in the field of ECE and had a genuine love for children’s literature. I was the educator with the fancy book areas/book nooks in the classrooms to promote excitement for reading!
For those looking for more information on Anisha and Zoey has an Allergy, you can visit her website.
P.S. Kids & Company families receive 15% off a copy of Zoey has an Allergy with the discount code "Kidco15".