Personalised books for toddlers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMadeleine is at an age when she loves seeing pictures of herself. She flips through the photos in my iPhone like a pro, looking for more pictures of herself and demanding "more! more!" (thankfully there are plenty). So for Christmas I made her a set of seven board books, all starring Madeleine and the people and activities she loves the most. The books are: My parents; My grandparents; My sisters; My cousins; My playtime; My pets; My dress-ups. These are not fancy, beautiful "record of my first year" books (although I'm still planning to make one of those for both of my children - one day!). They are simple, 12-page, hard-wearing board books, designed for a toddler to read and re-read (and drag around a room and throw away in a tantrum and smear with yoghurt).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI chose photographs with content that was meaningful to Madeleine, rather than beautiful and poetic (necessarily). There are blurry iPhone pictures in here, badly composed pictures, and pictures with bad lighting. The point was not aesthetics, but familiarity for her. It was interesting that by the time we gave these to her, three weeks after Harry had been born, she didn't respond as positively as I'd expected to the photos in which she was a baby. It took me a little while to realise she thought she was looking at Harry instead of herself.

Madeleine loves them all, but her favourite books are "My parents" and "My pets." It never gets old, having her open "My parents" in front of me and point to my face on every second page saying, ecstatically, "Mummy!"

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI ordered these books from Pinhole Press, the only place I'd seen that made books in cardboard rather than paper (it would take Madeleine about two minutes to utterly destroy a paper book). The website is simple and easy to use, you just drop and drag photographs and type a very simple message / description in the facing page. Don't plan anything too sophisticated and you will love it.

The only real challenge I faced was that after going to all the trouble of making all seven of these books, I got to the end of the order process and found they only delivered to the US or Canada. Even when I emailed to ask if they'd post to me, the answer was "no." Don't you find that strange, in this day and age, that a web-based company won't do international shipping (even if the customer is willing to pay for it)? I'd still recommend them, but if you live elsewhere you'll need to have a friend somewhere in North America who's willing to take delivery and then forward anything you order on to you. (A big thanks to my friend Jacqs who did this for me, and carried Madeleine's books all the way from LA to Melbourne on her holiday!)

What do you think? Have you ever made anything like this?

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