When students at Genesis Preschool in Tonganoxie opened new books their parents had bought for them, they were in for a surprise: The main characters in the books were themselves.
“The children loved the books as soon as they realized the main character was them,” says Cheryl Sander, a teacher at the school. “All kids love to hear stories about themselves and their friends. The personalization helps build self-esteem and self-image because they’re the star of the story.”
The books were made by Nancy Norris, a Tonganoxie resident who last year started her book-personalization service, Nancy’s Create-A-Book.
Using software and equipment she purchased, Norris can make any kid the star of a 35-page, hard-bound book in about five minutes.
“It becomes very personal,” she says. “It has the kid’s name throughout the story, so he or she becomes the hero of the story.”
Norris operates out of her home and also attends craft fairs, where many of her clients are shopping for birthday or holiday gifts for their little ones.
All those clients have to do is give the name of the child, their hometown and up to three friends to Norris, and the software automatically plugs in the information into the story.
For instance, in the book “The Little Ballerina Princess,” the child has three friends over for a tea party, and those friends get to be specifically named by the client.
Other books — most cost around $17 — include “The Train with no Name” (where the child is an engineer who saves the day), several sports books (where the child is the star player) and books about the first day of school, the circus, a farm trip and many others.
Sometimes, additional details about the child can be included in the books as well.
“I really like to spend a little bit of time talking to them,” Norris says. “Things come out they’d like to put in.”
The payoff comes when children read or hear the books for the first time.
“What kid doesn’t like reading about themselves?” Norris says. “It helps promote literacy.”
That was the experience at Genesis Preschool, where the books were used as a fundraising project.
“I think the books are a great way to encourage children to use their imaginations,” says Sander, the teacher. “Anything that helps building self-confidence is worth the investment, not to mention they make great keepsakes.”
For more information, visit www.nancyscreateabook.com.