Monday, July 9, 2012

For the Love of Books

When I was a kid, personalized everything was the rage. Especially  barrettes  and those mini license plates you could put on the back of your 10-speed. But with a name like Kyra, I got squat. No store ever had any personalized trinket with my name on it. Oh, the injustice!

But in all seriousness, I knew how much I would have gotten a kick out of seeing my name printed on something other than my lunch sack or my homework. Maybe that's why I fell in absolute love with these "I See Me!"  personalized storybooks.

First, they are books. And you should know, I am a huge book freak. I toe the line of book psycho, actually. I have a room lined with books, I spend more time in the library than I do in my car, I would rather read than go out on the town. With my firstborn just starting to enter into the reading world, I find myself a bit giddy. My girl, from the start, has loved books, and now that she's showing interest in actually reading the words herself, I am pawing the ground in my enthusiasm to get this race going.

I've explained to her how reading opens up different cultures and ideas, how almost every answer in the world can be found between the pages of a book. Books have gotten me through my life, in good times and in bad. On unforgettable family vacations, I relaxed with a book on the beach. When I was sick, a book took my mind off my aches and pains. When I was in labor, yes, I brought a book to the hospital (but this time, I actually didn't get to read it). When my dad had surgery, I read in the waiting room to help quash the anxiety. One of my favorite photos of all times is a self-portrait of me and my husband, both curled up on the couch, reading on a cozy winter's night.

Books. How I love thee!

I guess there was never a question that I'd be a writer, was there?

I can remember when I was my girl's age, I sat on our brown couch in the middle of winter, struggling to make sense of all those letters strung together in "Twas the Night Before Christmas." I watch my girl doing the same thing in her new "I See Me!" book. She's still too young to really understand the magic of words. Even after all this time in my career, I am still awe-struck by the way words can be manipulated, formed, massaged, arranged and sculpted to convey feelings, scenes, conversations, events. Just by taking letters of the alphabet, stringing them together in such a way, people can create art. It amazes me.

Of course, at this stage of the game, my kiddo needs images in addition to words. When I first saw the "I See Me!" book, I noticed how it combined story and image perfectly. My girl's hardcover book is ""My Very Own Fairy Tale," featuring 60 pages of full-color illustrations of these gorgeous fairies and their story. But the coolest part is that it features my girl's first, middle and last name, spelled out on each page by the fairies as part of the story. So it's not one of those personalized books where the child's name is just plugged in to the first page in a template. The name is part of the story, making the books very individual and unique.

My girl's name, like mine, is unique, so seeing her react to recognizing her moniker in something I didn't write in crayon was priceless.

Who knows? If I had books like this when I was my girl's age, maybe I would have read sooner, gotten better grades, been inspired to write novels in my teens and won a Nobel Prize for literature by now. Well, we can dream.

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