Enrich Your Child’s Reading Experience with Personalized Storybooks
If you think books about adventures, dinosaurs and princesses make great gifts for kids, then wait till you give a child a book about something(or someone) way cooler …. him!
When I spoke to Maia Haag of I See Me Inc a while ago about personalized books for kids, she brought up an interesting point. When discussing how much kids love books about themselves and characters or people in their lives, she suggested that personalized books help build self esteem in children. Although other children’s books do that as well, when a book’s plot specifically revolves around your child and his life, the adventures or challenges he faces and the people who influence him, it is a very powerful way to impact your child’s thoughts.
I am a big fan of giving personalized kids’ books as gifts. Whenever there’s an occasion to buy gifts for little nieces, nephews or friends’ kids, I grab the opportunity to hunt for and buy personalized books. I enjoy picking out just the perfect theme, setting or story that suits the little person I’m buying the book for and the whole process of furnishing little details like their names, ages, favorite colors or pets’ names or whatever it is the personalized book creator needs from me in order to create the unique gifts which are sure to be cherished for years.
Besides adding that very personal, special touch there are several other benefits of personalized children’s books -
They’re way more fun – because a personalized book is not about a charming prince fighting a fire-breathing dragon. It’s about the child who will read it. And if there’s something that brings more delight to a child while reading than reading a book about him, I’d like to know what it is.
Easy to Understand - Kids find it easy to relate to the incidents and characters in the book. They’re able to make connections, remember the story better and even grasp its message(if there is one) effortlessly and almost…subconsciously…because, they’re right in the middle of it all.
Reading Motivation - A healthy ego and curiosity can work wonders when you’re trying to get your child to achieve just about anything. I’ve noticed that even babies and kids reluctant to being read to or reading or their own, all of a sudden, start paying attention when you make up a story about them and their friends. Imagine having a book on hand that actually encourages the reluctant reader to pick it up and try to read. Or maybe even just flip through the pages. Reading experts may say you’ve won half the battle if you’ve perked up a child’s interest in reading.
Builds Self Esteem( and other qualities) – If you’ve ever tried to use books as tools to tackle tot troubles, you know how helpful it can be to have a book handy about the situation you’re facing. Be it temper tantrums or sibling rivalry, a thoughtfully penned book is your best friend in getting the message across to your child without him even realizing what you’re doing. And a personalized book dealing with a specific situation or phase that your child is experiencing at the moment can work wonders. One of my little nieces used to be very shy around people, and could not bring herself to perform in front of audiences even though she enjoyed ballet immensely. She loved being a ballerina and twirling around, but would only allow the closest of family to watch her. I bought her a custom storybook about a little ballerina and her friends preparing for a recital as a birthday gift that year. Her mom told me that my niece asked her to read it to her over and over again. She took the book everywhere she went. She showed it off proudly to her ballet instructor. Using the book as an aid, her mom was able to gently nudge her out of her shell and encourage her to open up and share her talents with larger audiences. Her beautiful recital that year is the talk of the family. So, be it confidence, patience, politeness, honesty, being organized, friendliness or any other quality you want your child to imbibe, a creatively crafted and well-produced personalized storybook is sure to be a great inspiration.
One of a Kind - You can be pretty sure your gift won’t be the one that will get returned to the department store because four other people got the child the same gift for his birthday.
Keepsakes, Memory Keepers, Heirloom – This is my favorite reason for getting kids personalized books as gifts. They stay in the family forever. Tattered, torn maybe, with some pages destroyed beyond recognition, but they’ll be around all right. Not too many people have the heart to discard them. They’re the kind of gifts people talk about at family gatherings and pass on to their children or grandchildren. “Remember that book about the ballerina Aunt Lily gave me when I was 6?” And a personalized book serves as a great item to put in a time capsule or memory box for kids to open many years later. And since there’s bound to be only one of its kind in the whole world, a personalized book’s sentimental value only multiplies with time. Call me self-indulgent or egoistic…but hey, I want my little nieces and nephews to remember my gift forever. I want to be the aunt who got them the book they still have 20 years later.
How and where to find personalized children’s books
1.Online – I’m sure there are plenty of options out there that a simple internet search for personalized storybooks will spit out. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve purchased from Custom Story Books and I See Me Inc on many occasions. Both offer unique ways to customize your gift. Custom Story Books have a large number of product options to choose from including personalized photo books, personalized photo coloring books, personalized DVDs, name trains and wooden toys. One of the unique aspects of their personalized photo books is that they digitally convert your child’s photo ( which you upload while personalizing), into a painting that blends well with the book’s characters and settings. So, it’s really as if your child is a part of the story. I See Me offers a fresh perspective to personalized books – the child’s! Their popular product The World According to (Child) book uses the child’s own imagination, illustrations and answers to various questions to create the final product. In this and a few other products, I See Me engages the child in the book’s creation process, which could be a great family project as well as a way to put your child’s imagination and time to productive use in producing something that he is sure to read, enjoy and be proud of for a long time. I particularly like their My Very Own Name book and floor puzzle, which I think make great gifts for young children learning to spell or read their names. The book, of course, makes a lovely newborn gift as well. Both places offer excellent customer service, timely delivery and the personalization process is fairly easy and enjoyable.
2. Picture or Photo Books – Every drug store or discount store that offers photo printing, also offers several custom photo gifts such as mugs, picture books, clocks, calendars and the like. To some people, these gifts may seem lame or far too common. After all, haven’t we all received a photo calendar or desk clock at some point? But I find that creating picture books, especially using captions or a storyline that a child can relate to makes them inexpensive and memorable gifts. Babies love looking at pictures of people, especially people they know. So, next time, maybe skip the photo calendar or clock for the grown-ups. But, go for the picture books with photos of grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins for the baby.
3. Make your own personalized books at home! It doesn’t get any more personal. It doesn’t have to be super-professional. Or it could be, if you like. Just think up your own stories about your kids and other familiar characters. If imagination lets you down, add a new twist to old stories by changing the names and settings. Use family pictures, clipart images, pencil sketches, hand-made drawings, pages from your child’s coloring book or old photographs to illustrate your book. Depending on your skill level and available time, you can make the books as professional-looking as you want. Involve your child in the process if he is old enough. Ask him to suggest character and place names, and how a story might turn out. Include their doodles in the book. You could either use self-publishing services such as Lulu to publish your book. Or choose a simpler, hand-made, home-made version.
So there! If there’s a birthday coming up or even if there’s no occasion, but you just feel like indulging a little guy or girl you know, a personalized storybook is sure to win little hearts. And find you a place there even when they’re not so little any more.