From the title, you might guess that Tiziana Ciccone has a child battling a severe food allergy. Guess again. This weeks featured author and mompreneur is the owner of three private preschools and author of six children’s books. Her decision to address the growing childhood food allergy epidemic comes from her own unique bird-eye position.
When did your passion for writing surface?
I was born on September 8, 1960 in the small town of Chieti in the province of Abruzzi Italy. I immigrated to Canada in 1962. Since childhood, I have loved to read, tucked beneath my blankets, flashlight in hand, I lost myself in the adventures of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes. My own imagination knew no bounds as I wove my own stories on scraps of paper and kept an adventure journal.
Did you jump right into writing?
As a young woman, I never considered writing as a career, perhaps for fear of failure or simply because it was not a practical choice given the competitive nature of the book industry. So instead I pursued a career in Early Childhood Education which has brought me incredible success. I now own three private preschools in Richmond Hill Ontario. (www.reggiokids.blogspot.com). In September of 2013 I began teaching part time at Centennial College in the ECE program.
You’ve written some pretty amazing stories. Tell us about your books.
Many of the characters in my books are inspired by the wonderful children I have met and by my own three children who’s childhood years filled my life with laughter and adventure. My first book, Wake Up the Baby’s Coming, was published in 2010. The story came to me in the middle of a sleepless night. Based on events of the night my first son Daniel was born, it gives a comical perspective on birth.
Since then five additional titles have been published; The Pancake Princess, Lucinda Queen of Everything, No More Peanut Butter Daniel, Taylor Please Stop Talking and Tooth Fairy Trouble. Some of these titles were co authored with my dear friend and business partner Franca Linardi. We have many other books in various stages of publication.
Our books seek to provide an enjoyable format for children where lessons are not the prime concern. It is our hope that our books, along with many other published works, will help to support a love of reading providing children with rich story lines, lovable character and fantastic setting.
Much like adults, children gravitate to books that entertain and engage them. We hope that our books will create lasting memories.
In the words of my own daughter ~The best memories of my childhood are of bed time stories and the great adventures those books took me on! Liana 22 years old
Your own children don’t have food allergies and yet you were driven to focus one of your books on childhood food allergies. What drove you to write No More Peanut Butter Daniel?
When I first began working in the Early Childhood Education field, in 1981, allergies were rare. In fact we didn’t even have allergy boards and anaphylaxis was unheard of. So what’s happened in the last 30 years? In my own three preschools, the walls are lined with allergy alerts; eggs, nuts and dairy as the three most common groups. At any given time we have upward of ten children with deadly allergies to these foods.
The challenge is how to keep children safe. My preschool environments are controlled. We restrict foods from entering the centres and our menus reflect the dietary restrictions of these children. The true problem is educating others. Even with guidelines in place children still walk in with cookies that contain traces of peanuts. So how do we keep children stay safe in light of these breaches?
It was this challenge that turned my attention to writing No More Peanut Butter Daniel, a story that places the child at the heart of his own safety. The truth is that when anaphylactic children enter the mainstream of elementary school, and the world at large, they will have to learn to take responsibility for their own safety. As parents and teachers we must educate the anaphylactic child.
Give us a sneak peak into the storyline of the book.
No More Peanut Butter Daniel, was written in response to my growing concern surrounding the rise of deadly childhood allergies. Daniel is a preschooler who simply won’t take no for an answer in his persistent quest to eat peanut butter. Daniel’s mother is always extra careful to make sure he eats foods that are healthy and safe. When his mother warns him not to eat peanut butter until he is older, Daniel just doesn’t listen! Putting aside his mother’s warnings, he sneaks a taste of the forbidden food and experiences an allergic reaction. No More Peanut Butter, Daniel, enlightens parents about life-saving measures and the increasing number of children with life-threatening allergies.
How do the children respond to this particular story?
Having shared this book with over 150 children in our preschool, we have seen an interesting shift. The children identify Daniel with their anaphylactic classmates. They have taken a vested interest in the safety of their friends, imparting this message to their parents.
As a mother of a child with severe food allergies, I would love to buy some copies for my family and close friends of my son. How can we get our hands on this book and your other stories?
No More Peanut Butter Daniel and my other books are available on Amazon.com or through the publisher’s web site at http://sbpra.com/tizianacicconeandfrancalinardi/
Tiziana Ciccone’s Blog: http://reggiokids.blogspot.com