Personalised books for children have long been popular in first world countries and are now becoming a rage in India as well. All parents out there, especially those in the metros with kids in the age group of 0-8 years would frequently be seeing ads for personalised picture books which proclaim to make your child a hero in the book. Here are a few things about personalized books that we should be mindful of – what’s great about them – a unique and customized product, personalised books typically have your child’s name weaved in the story and they become a character in the book. Seeing their name printed in the book and a story centred around them makes reading attractive and hopefully an engaging habit – a great idea with reducing attention spans thanks to the ubiquitous screens. There is no question around the advantages of reading books and this is a great method to introduce the concept to babies as early as 3 months.
Seeing their childs name in a book is equally exciting for parents and reading it together makes for great bonding time. The other advantage of personalising books is that they can be efficient tools to make a message resonate better with a child. Already seeing themselves as a character in the book, if the book has a relatable storyline the message in the book is likely to have more of an impact on the reader. Unfortunately, not a lot of companies out there use this aspect to enable the child with takeaways from a meaningful story which will help them in real life.
What to watch out for
As parents, we should be aware that there are a lot of players in the market who offer personalised books. So, we need not gush over and order from the first link we stumble upon. While the idea of seeing your child in a book is appealing, we need to also be conscious of the message the book is relaying out to the child. Most companies offer a chance to preview the whole book online on their website and we should make use of this feature. One meaningful criticism of personalized books is that constantly portraying your child as a hero builds a false sense of grandeur around the child, which will be broken in the real world. A lot of books out there, promise your child as an astronaut launching into space, a king or a queen resplendent in all their glory, an over-confident adventurer on a trail of bravado. Another painfully common theme is where the story centres around the childs name. We must take a moment to pause and think that once we try and attract the child to the idea of reading the book, what is it that he/she is reading and more importantly what is it that they are learning from it. In a world where our children are already under tremendous pressure to be “more”- more rich, fair, tall, smart – an endless list. Do we really want to subtly introduce more pressure on them by making them “heroes” of the books they read? Most of us are not heroes everyday, on most days or any day of our lives. Why not rather let them be just another character in the story, voicing their thoughts and feelings and helping them express better – takeaways that will help them deal better with the real world.
Tips on buying personalised books
So, the next time you are considering which personalised book to order based on how many times your child’s name appears in it, do take a look at the storyline and illustrations first. There is also a need to question certain stereotypes about children’s books in general, not just personalised ones. For example, children’s books should have minimum words or a certain number of pages. This approach is unnecessarily prescriptive. Why not introduce words to them as kids are known to pick up words and language in general, faster than adults. A better vocabulary makes for a more confident child and also one who can communicate and express themselves better. This also necessitates a read aloud session from you – a great opportunity for parent-child bonding and a much needed moment where just the two of you matter, as the world goes rushing by. Most personalised books come with a a premium pricing (since each book is customized and uniquely printed for your child). So, do go ahead and spend that money to gift your child a special package, but also a complete one!
About the author:
Nidhi founded Bookosmia (smell of books) to make children fall in love with reading books, in the age of the ubiquitous screen. A Maths (Hons) graduate from Lady Shri Ram, followed by an MBA from IIM Lucknow, Nidhi is an ex-banker who pivoted from her 10 year banking career, quitting as Vice President HSBC in 2016 to indulge in her passion for reading and luring others to read. Retelling of old Indian folklore struck her as a perfect medium to reach out to children with picture books both personalized (with childs name etc) and regular story books. Hoping to bring Indian picture books to the attention of the world, she is committed to pack in together the best illustration, printing and story telling, bringing Bookosmia at par with the best Picture Books in the world.
You can know more about Bookosmia from their website.
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