When I was a kid, I lived in a holler. I had one friend, Lisa, who lived just down the road. I had my dog, Precious Pup. And I had my imagination and reading. I would read all the time. Comics, novels, magazines, anything I could get my hands onto. Ma was a fan of ordering things from the backs of magazines and in the small advertisements of newspapers (I have a stamp collection from around the world to prove it). When I was eight, she signed me up for a subscription of books. They were personalized books and I LOVED them
What’s a personalized book, you ask? THESE were MY personalized books. When I was 8, the first to arrive was Me, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It was addressed to me (I had never before received mail). Ma acted as if she had no idea what it was.
In reality the “what it was” was a ticket into a world of books written JUST for me.
When I opened the book, on the first page it said: “A story written especially for Michelle Seletyn with love from Mom and Dad.” The little advertisement she found in some magazine asked a few questions:
- Child’s name?
- Child’s birthday?
- Street Address?
((In retrospect, this could have opened me, as an eight year old, up to a kidnapper, couldn’t it have? Holy shit, was Ma trying to get rid of me under the guise of gifting my literature hobby???!? Old me is far more cynical than young me, but I digress…))
Using that information, they plug it into the books on key pages and the story becomes suddenly more personal. I, Michelle Seletyn, went on an adventure with Snow White and there was a plot that my friend Lisa and I had to figure out, but my pup, Precious was there. Oh, and, a key to the adventure was my birthday!! What??
In a fit of nostalgia (and easy access to the interwebs), I tried looking up the company and it appears to no longer be around (stab to the heart). However, there are other publishing companies that are available for books that are similar.
The Snow White book was the first one, a paperback. Then, every month for one year, I received a hardback book, personalized with my information. It was a great year!
So, here it goes, I will post the entire book here. I no longer live on Oakwood Street in Carlisle and Precious died when I was 18 but the joy I still get when I look at these books is immeasurable. The best thing my Ma could have ever done at such a young age was to stoke my imagination, to feed that imagination books and to encourage me to be the best version of myself.