Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Don’t Laugh at Me, a Singable Picture Book

Posted on: February 23, 2013

This is a beautiful and important song.   Don’t Laugh at Me  is an emotionally stirring song about how we treat each other.

don't laugh at me - glin dibley
Don’t Laugh at Me

Words and Music by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
Afterword by Peter Yarrow
Illustrated by Glin Dibley
This book features printed music and a sing-along CD.

Thoughts 2/27/2013

Each time I sing the song Don’t Laugh at MeI am more and more convinced about the importance, relevance and vitality of its message and I am inspired by the beautiful way it is constructed.  The song conveys it’s meaning not just in the words, but the sound of the music and the feelings that combination inspires.  I can see it on the faces of the children as I sing to them.  Some of the older children, I have noticed, resist the message at first, but it is interesting to watch the music break through the resistance.  Younger children seem to plug into the music immediately.  It is amazing to watch empathy and compassion kick in.

I’ve only just begun singing this song in the last couple of days.  I got teary and choked up in the first class, but have been able to find a place where it is possible to sing the song and experience and share the emotion at the same time.  Finding that line of emotional involvement and detachment while simultaneously sharing the message is the central challenge of this beautiful song.

I start out by telling the children that there are different ways to classify and experience the songs we sing.  I sincerely hope all the songs are  equally enjoyable, but we sing some of the songs just because they are great songs that are fun to sing.  Some of the songs have historical or factual information in them that can help us learn and remember.  Some songs represent a particular time in history or an aspect of our artistic culture.  And some songs are important because they help us understand each other in ways that may otherwise be difficult to articulate.

Don’t Laugh at Me is one of those important songs.  Don’t Laugh at Me is an important song because it reminds us to remember the feelings and dignity of others, not matter what.  It reminds us that empathy and compassion for others is one of the most important aspects of a civilized society.

Personally, I feel that each person has a mission to fulfill in this life and, no matter what that mission is, that mission cannot be fully achieved without embracing empathy and compassion for others.  Don’t Laugh at Me embodies those profound ideas is such a simple, sweet and lovely way.  The song is accessible and beautiful and I am so glad to be able to share it with anyone who will listen.


Wiki with info about DON’T LAUGH AT ME:’t_Laugh_at_Me

DON’T LAUGH AT ME is said to have inspired Peter Yarrow to create the organization OPERATION RESPECT.
More info, here:

A page of info, music, activities, curriculum ideas and resources for songs, including DON’T LAUGH AT ME

DON’T LAUGH AT ME curriculum guide PDF for grades 2-5, here:


This is the songwriter’s video of the released recording of the song.  It has a slightly different set of lyrics and musical arrangement than in the book.  The book is more appropriate for children, but this recording is certainly wonderful.

Song video with book illustrations
This video has an intro that might make you think the video is over before the song begins…keep listening!  The song is beautiful and heartfelt and the illustrations (same as in the book) are terrific.  The message of compassion and empathy could not be more important.

Peter Yarrow sings the song accompanying himself with acoustic guitar:


Words and Music by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
(These are the set of lyrics published in the book)

I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call a geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I have braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep.

I’m that kid on every playground
Who’s always chosen last
I’m the one who’s slower
Than the others in my class
You don’t have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask?

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me.

I’m the beggar on the corner
You’ve passed me on the street
I wouldn’t be out here beggin’
If I had enough to eat
And don’t think I don’t notice
That our eyes never meet.

I was born a little different
I do my dreaming from this chair
I pretend it doesn’t hurt me
When people point and stare
There’s a simple way to show me
Just how much you care –

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me.

I’m fat, I’m thin,
I’m short, I’m tall
I’m deaf, I’m blind
Hey aren’t we all?

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me.

Addendum, 1/19/2014

I deeply enjoyed:

greenwich village music that defined a generation
Greenwich Village (Music that Defined a Generation)

I watched this documentary on the edge of my seat.  I had to write down a few of the things the performers (many of them genuine musical heroes) said.

Here’ something Peter Yarrow said:

“The whole DON’T LAUGH AT ME program is kind of a legacy of Pete [Seeger]…because we’re using music in the context of feeling valuable because we’re helping each other…the music brings the people together and opens their heart…”
Peter Yarrow

Related Posts


A list of SPBs with fun and sneakily educational content.  The kids won’t even know they’re learning!


A list of the Singable Picture Books from the Peter Yarrow Songbook series:


Greenwich Village (music that defined a generation), a terrific, inspiring documentary

BE KIND, Good Advice from Dalai Lama


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