Monday, August 6, 2007

You Know Your Kid Is Narcissistic When...

Sam's favorite 'story' to 'read' at bedtime is the photo album I made of the first year of his life. Guess who is prominently featured in every single photograph? This little ham!

The kid, he loves himself. Most kids his age do. So the idea of putting his face in an actual story book that we could read was almost too good to be true. But ImagiTales and the lovely folks over at the Parent Bloggers Network made my dreams a reality when they offered me three personalized children's books.

I got to work building my ImagiTales on a lonely Saturday night. The first step, and by far the most involved, is finding a digital picture of the little one (and yourself or spouse in some cases) that works well with the process. This means that the subject is looking squarely into the camera. The ImagiTales web page offers the advice that both ears should be showing. A toddler who rarely sits still for the camera is rarely photographed head-on. Actually, most of my pictures are of the back of his head. Still, I managed to find two that would work.

Once you upload the photo to the site, just follow the easy instructions on how to outline the head. Word of warning: the instructions are easy. The task, not so much. This was, for me, the most difficult portion of the program. It involves making an outline of dots around your kid's head and hair. The more close together your dots are, the finer the cutout will be. If you have even a hint of perfectionism in you, this step could take you hours. The site advises you to 'just take your time and enjoy the process,' which I may have been able to do if I had the liberty to enjoy the process with a glass of wine. But once I got the hang of it, I was able to add several heads to my 'faces library' in a reasonable amount of time.

Once I had all my faces in order, I set about making some books. There are several titles to choose from, and each comes in a Beginner version and a Standard version. Even though Sam's been religiously watching his Your Baby Can Read dvds, we went with the Beginner version. I selected I'm A Big Brother, Nature Things and My Body. After a few minutes inputing names and pronouns, the books were ready for proofing! This part was really quick and easy, so once you have your 'faces library' in order the process is pretty effortless.

As soon as you're finished, you get to see a proof copy of your book. Read it very carefully. I did not. Somehow I accidentally replaced the word 'sister' with the word 'sleeping.' One page reads, 'Daddy and Mommy hold the baby because my little baby sleeping is so little.' Another says, 'I read my favorite book to my baby sleeping.' What can I say? Pregnancy has ruined my brain.

After you verify that all of the words you entered were correct and the genders you assigned are right and proper (I also accidentally made Daddy a she on one page) you are finished! You can buy an E-book of your ImagiTales for $2.95 or a paperback version for $9.95. If you purchase a paperback, you get the E-book for free, by the way. The E-book is nice if you have a lot of folks you'd like to share with. Or if you've used a particularly funny picture of your spouse in one of the books, you can email it to all of his friends and family!

The books arrived in a very timely fashion. The site says to allow for one to two weeks, but I think ours came even sooner. More importantly, Sam ADORES these books. At bedtime, he wildly gestures to the shelf where we keep them, and as soon as we finish one he starts calling for the next. He loves to point to the pictures of himself, and when we read My Body, he even points out his real life parts as we read. We do have to keep them up on a higher shelf because they are a bit flimsy, and Sam is a ripper/shredder when it comes to paper pages. But if your kids are a little older (or have more respect for fine works of literature) then this shouldn't be an issue.

Overall, I think this is a great product. And since you can make your first E-book for free, you should really click over to the ImagiTales homepage and find out for yourself. I can't wait until Sam is grown up and we can pull these out to embarrass him in front of his prom date. He loves them so much now, I hope they last that long!

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