No kid wants to be different than his or her friends.

I certainly didn't, especially in those early school and tween years when just being "normal" seems the biggest challenge. Type 1 came into my life just before kindergarten began and was along for the entire ride throughout my school years, so I've got vivid memories of being angry that I was so different because of my diabetes.

Those memories are what make me so very happy to see a new book called It's OK To Be Different: An Amazing SchRisa Peets Bookool Day, sending a message to kids that it's fine to "not be the same" and that diabetes isn't anything to be ashamed of. This 75-pager is aimed at children with diabetes (CWDs) going through elementary school.

The book is clearly about type 1, though the author Risa Peets uses the outdated term "juvenile diabetes." This is kind of surprising since Risa is a new children's author, but a 10-year-veteran registered nurse who's had a lot of experience working with CWDs.

Here's how she describes the book:

News nuggets from around the diabetes community

NEWSFLASH: FDA Clears Dexcom Share Direct
Dexcom gets regulatory approval of its 'on-the-go' mobile apps for CGM data-sharing.
Snail Uses Insulin to Poison Fish
New study shows these slow-moving creatures use toxic form of insulin to capture prey.
A New Square Patch Insulin Pump
TouchéMedical's new Bluetooth-enabled patch pump is supposedly the world's smallest and cheapest.

closing banner

"The goal of this book and conversation is to let children know that in dealing with diabetes, it's OK to be different. Children can make a positive difference in their classrooms, schools and communities by helping educate others and making them aware of this important issue."

With the new school year upon us, we thought this was a perfect time to review and give away this book that was released this Spring!

The main character is named Lance, a young boy living with type 1 who appears to be in either kindergarten or first grade (depending on when you stop doing art projects to learn simple math these days). The book's written through the eyes of the child, so CWDs can understand and parents or educators can also use it to teach their kids about differences — especially when it comes to diabetes.

It highlights common examples of D-management during the school day: visits to the school nurse before, during and after class to check blood sugars and give insulin (assuming there is a nurse in the school); the CWD eating a specially-prepared lunch that's different from his friends'; the low blood sugars that can happen during gym class; the peer pressure element of not wanting to "be different" because of one's health; and of course the child-parent conversations about all of this.

In this book, Lance apparently isn't allowed to check his blood sugar in class and must go to the school nurse's office to have that done and get any insulin that might be needed.

One day at lunch, Lance gets teased by a couple of friends. They ask him why on taco salad day, his lunch tray has green beans and sliced pears and milk instead of the cornbread and smoothies like everyone else has. When he explains it's because he has diabetes, one kid asks what that meLance Feels Different at Lunchans, and an another classmate pipes up to say it means Lance can't eat sweets and that he's "weird like that." Then they both laugh.

This upsets Lance, and hell, it upset me... because I remember that exact same type of teasing and humiliation. Even when the friends may not realize their teasing hurts so much, it stung to be on the receiving end of that laughter and to stand out as "different" in such a way.

Later, on the school bus (after leaving gym class early because of a low), Lance hears those same two classmates telling others about his being a "weirdo" for eating a different lunch. This makes Lance feel even worse, but two other friends defend him saying that's not funny, and: "You're not weird Lance, you're just a little different. But who's not?"

Later, at home, Lance cries when telling his mom about his day at school and he asks her the "Why me?" question about his diabetes. Why does he have to be different by taking "insulinx" (insulin!), leaving class early, and not being able to walk to the cafeteria with his friends?

OK, I know this is only a kids' book... but I felt tears welling up at this point. I vividly remember feeling this way. There were times in elementary school when I felt low but didn't say anything because I didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to myself. There were times when I couldn't take part in kickball or dodgeball, and had to stand by the wall drinking my juice while watching all my friends play, because the school officials were trying to "take care of me." And times were I sat out in gym class for the same reasons.

Not something any kid wants to be known for, at a time when they're just trying desperately to fit in.

During their talk, Lance's mom tells him to think about what the world would be like if everyone were the same — if all were doctors and there weren't any astronauts or attorneys or ballplayers, or if everyone was a clown and had to wear a clown suit? She also tells her son that he's brave and courageous for carrying on with diabetes -- and Lance is encouraged!

He decides to talk with his school nurse about how he can help educate his classmates about diabetes and healthy eating and why the five food groups are different. And then the lesson comes full circle and the kids are talking about it at lunch, highlighting how excited they are to have "different" kinds of food.

OK, it's hokey, but the lesson is a great one. And I really like that it's written in a way that seems applicable to any school scenario in which a CWD is feeling like an outsider because of his or her diabetes.

There are a growing number of "diabetes in school" resources these days, including the ADA's Safe At School program, and IMHO I think this book could actually be a part of a lesson plan for schools that goes along with other items like template 504 plans. Not to mention that it's a great book for parents of CWDs to have on hand whenever their child is feeling down.

So, here's a chance to get this book into your own hands!

{Released March 2013 by Heart-to-Heart Publishing, available on Amazon in Kindle format for $5.99. The book is also available on the author's website for $8 a copy, or in larger bundles for schools or other settings.}

 

The DMBooks Giveaway

Interested in winning your own free copy of It's OK To Be Different: An Amazing School Day by Risa Peets? Entering the giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment:

1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the the text to let us know that you'd like to be entered in the giveaway.

2. You have until Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.

3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.

4. The winner will be announced on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, so make sure you're following us! We'll update this blog post with the winner's name once chosen.

The contest is open to all, so good luck everyone!

This contest is now closed. Congrats to D-Mom Alexandra, who Random.org chose as the giveaway winner!

 
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.