EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — The saying "never judge a book by its cover" couldn't be more fitting for Jannesy Deleon of Middle Smithfield Township.
She just published her new book, "Tag! You're It: A Story on Inclusion with Gabby & Nicky."
"Gabriella is the older sister. She's seven in the book and Nicholas is six. But he's like her advocate. Her little like partner in crime and he can be her voice sometimes," said DeLeon.
But the tale of Gabby, a non-verbal seven-year-old in a wheelchair, who just wants to play with other kids, is inspired by real life.
Gabby and Nicky are DeLeon's kids.
Both of them grew up non-verbal and in wheelchairs.
DeLeon says it was often difficult for others to understand or accept.
"People either wouldn't pay attention to them or include them in things like if there were activities. Deep down, I guess I felt it was hurtful but I knew people were bad intentioned," DeLeon said. "It's just you kinda have to make them aware."
That's the lesson she hopes children and adults take away after reading her book.
"If we start young with children in pre-K, Kindergarten children, just try exposing them and talking about inclusion that, that would be a great place to start and that could start a conversation about this need of awareness and acceptance," DeLeon said.
Jannesy says she hopes her book will teach people, It's okay to be different. Just like her children.
"It's not even just about her disability," the author said. "It's really, this is a book that connects to anybody and everybody that has either something different or feels different, has been excluded for one reason or another."
The author says she's already writing the next book in the series.