Personalized Storybooks For Kids

LostMy.Name is producing an intriguing line of personalized storybooks for kids (2-6 years, I think). You get a real paper book (yay!) with story and hand drawn art. The clever part is customizing the book to refer specifically to the letters of the name of the specific child.

The new release is “The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home”, which employs real and realistic imagery of both outer space and the Earth from space and air. One image is selected so that the child’s name is spelled out in visible stars, a la a constellation. The journey proceeds from the milky way, to the solar system, to Earth, to the City and then street where the child lives.

I guess this is kind of cool, though not necessarily as amazing as some of the buzz seems to suggest. (And what do I know about what two-year-olds like to read.) I don’t completely understand their methods, but they have done a competent job pulling together a lot of simple pieces into a nice package.

I’m not a big fan of this sort of “personalization” in general. Aside from the “everything is about me” vibe, the actual features are pretty trivial. Most kids would be perfectly happy to help someone find their name or get home, without it having to be about me, me, me.

I also foresee difficulties when you have more than one kid, and you want them to share. How can you share a book that is designed just for one of you? For that matter, there will be no possibility of sales to libraries or other public reading areas. Perhaps lostmy.name should consider creating some more generic versions that have more “us” than “we”. For example, the lost kid could be trying to return a book to his library….so all the kids can identify with that quest.

On the positive side, this sort of swooping in from space is exactly the game I played when I first had access to NASA imagery over the internet. Well, I didn’t look fr my name in stars, but I did move through the imagery, closing in on my own home step by step.  And everybody looks up their own house on Google Earth, no? This is a worthy exercise that helps place yourself in the gran scheme of things (I am a tiny fleck on a tiny planet in a tiny solar system, out in the boondocks of a perfectly ordinary galaxy. Etc.)

The “where am I” game is something anyone can play, though it certainly is convenient to have some artists do the grunge work of pulling up the relevant imagery. It is a great thing for kids to think about. And at a later age, show them how to use the real imagery!

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