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Don't Laugh at Me
by Steve Seskin & Allen Shamblin
ages 4-8 32 pages Tricycle Press November 2002 Hardcover w/ CD    

As the mom of a child with a disability, I deeply appreciate the wonderful, empowering and uplifting children’s book Don’t Laugh At Me. Designed to open the doors of understanding and help stop bullying, this amazing book asks people to learn to respect kids and adults with disabilities, and to honor the differences we often make fun of.

Accompanied by the eye-catching illustrations of Glin Dibley, the text by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin is written in a sing-song rhythm that introduces us to a variety of children with specific disabilities and with characteristics that might make them the victims of bullies. There are kids with braces and glasses, in wheelchairs, too fat and too skinny, and even kids who are shy and geeky. And there is a homeless man who asks that passersby at least meet his eye as they walk right by him on the street. The characters all simply ask for respect and understanding, and the prose is simple and honest, leading up to a lovely ending that proclaims that one day we will all have wings.

The beauty of this book is its usefulness in the school classroom and libraries, where kids can read it and feel as if they are not alone. The book is accompanied by a CD of a song called “Don’t Laugh At Me” written by Steve Seskin. It’s a heartfelt song, one that a child with a special difference can listen to and gain strength and hope from. But any child can benefit from the lesson this book conveys, whether that child is bullied or the bully.

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame offers a moving afterword of the book, and portions of the book’s sale will be donated to Yarrow’s “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh At Me” organization, making this one book that is more than worthy of your time, money and attention. Because whether you realize it or not, we are all different, yet really all the same.

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