Startling children’s book shows harsh realities many kids face every day

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A new children's book is on shelves, sharing tales of abuse, hunger and crime against inner city kids.

The authors, sadly, are the kids themselves.

Here's a bedtime story that's meant to wake people up. "Welcome to My Neighborhood" is a new illustrated book that, at first glance, looks like the typical story that's written for kids. But it's not. The book is raw, harsh and visceral.

“It catches your eye, and it's disturbing,” Tiffany Lynch, co-founder at Youth Ambassadors, said.

"Welcome to My Neighborhood" features firsthand accounts from children in Kansas City's urban core,  using the illustration style seen in books intended for kids, depicts scenes of violence, hunger, child abuse and seeing loved ones go to jail.

“In reality, this book is not for children,” Lynch said.

Lynch helped found Youth Ambassadors in 2010. That metro non-profit group provides job skills and mentoring to inner city teens. The stories in the book came directly from their journals.

“It's disturbing. You don't expect to hear about hunger and violence and murder in a children's book. It's disturbing,” Lynch said.

The book is making an impact, with an initial run of roughly a thousand copies.

Aaron Evanson is an advertising executive with VML, a worldwide agency based in Kansas City that donated its time and resources to publish the book and its harsh realities.

“I read through a few of them and they're so arresting,” Evanson said.

“These stories allow you to relate better to the situation. Either we all grew up with these books, or we can't imagine reading these stories to our children.”

The book's artwork brings everything into reality -- strong images, meant to make that impact. Illustator Davy Gant drew fierce images of guns, drugs, and physical abuse.

“Reality is something we all need to be aware of. We can't just live as if these kinds of things don't happen to children or people,” Gant told FOX 4 News.

In the end, Lynch says she hopes the book opens hearts and minds. As she says, if these things aren't safe for all kids living in the metro, no child should face these atrocities.

You can get a copy of Welcome to My Neighborhood by making a small donation to Youth Ambassadors. This link will take you to their Facebook page.