Personalization makes everything more fun, especially for kids. Companies like Build-A-Bear are so popular because they let kids feel like they're part of their toys, increasing their engagement. An individual touch can make everything from sweatshirts to stuffed animals better, and these personalized children's books are no exception.
Although they've existed in some fashion for years, the magic of the internet has made personalized books more accessible than ever, as you're able to specialize more aspects of a story than ever. You can make books that feature your kiddo's name, photo, and even pictures of their friends and family, plus a special dedication for readers. Personalized books can double as keepsakes as well as stories too, as your child will be able to look back at it when they're older to find out more about what they were like at a certain age. Think of them as a cross between baby and picture books, combining the best elements of both.
There are hundreds of different personalized books out there, but read on for 16 of the best ones available right now. Some work well as birthday or holiday gifts, and others would be great year round. Either way, story time just got way more fun.
1. "All About Me at My Age Personalized Time Capsule Book" by Katie Flynn Baccoli, illustrated by David Arumi
I love this book as a birthday gift, as you can capture exactly what your child is like at a certain age. You can personalize it with your kiddo's age (between 2 and 8) and photo on the cover, and the book comes with blanks when it's delivered so you can fill it out together. From answering questions to drawing photos, this book doubles as a book and an activity, giving them a lasting play option.
2. "ABCs With Me!" by Jeanette Bahn, illustrated by Donna Farrell
Winner of the Gold Mom's Choice Award, the Bronze Moonbeam Award, and the Creative Child Magazine's "Preferred Choice" Award, this book doubles as an educational tool and a cute keepsake. Every kid has to learn their ABCs, and what better way to do it than with a personalized book? Your little one's face and name will be on the cover and throughout the book that teaches them their alphabet. Every kid has to learn their ABCs, and what better way to do it than with them as the star of the story?
3. "When (Insert Name) Grows Up"
This forward-thinking book focuses on everything your little one could be someday. The text dreams of your child's future, listing jobs they could have like poet or police officer. You get to personalize the book with your child's name, an illustration to their likeness, and a special dedication at the beginning of the book. Plus, the text comes in multiple versions, with Mommy and Daddy versions so the gift can be even more special. Check out all of the options on the Hooray Heroes site.
4. "The Little Boy or Girl Who Lost Their Name"
This fun story will make your kid feel like the star of the show, as it's literally all about them. You'll receive a custom story about your little one trying to "find" their name after they lose it, and it changes depending on your child's name so families with multiple kids won't feel jipped. It's a great choice for kids just learning to spell, and the text boasts being the US's bestselling picture book in 2018.
5. "Goodnight Little Me"
Bedtime stories just got even more fun with this book from i See Me. The story is described as a "lyrical lullaby" on the company's website, designed to help your child relax and prepare for sleep. It can serve as a great bedtime ritual, as kiddos will get used to seeing the book version of themselves fall asleep before they actually do. And the illustrations are gorgeous.
6. "A Monster Mess!" by Kelly DiPucchio
New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio is responsible for this hilariously fun mystery book, which features your little reader on a mission to figure out who made a mess. You can personalize it with your child's name, photo, and a special dedication, as well as two family photos and the cover you like best of five different options. It would be a fun read even if your kid wasn't in it.
7. "The Wondrous Road Ahead"
This book will tell the story of your child on a personal journey, and you can make it true to them by picking three characteristics you think they need most as they journey through life. You can choose between kindness, bravery, curiosity, determination, respect, and honesty to ensure you're teaching them the lessons you think matter most, and seeing their name alongside those values will really hit home. And the gorgeous illustrations make it extra touching.
8. "We Go Together Like…" illustrated by Sally Garland
Siblings or besties will love this sweet story about the bond between them. You can personalize the book with your fave dynamic duo, and they'll enjoy 24 pages of celebration about the two of them. You and your kiddo could make it together for their best friend, or you can give it to your little ones as a joint gift.
9. "How Many Shapes Do You See?" by Stephanie Shaw, illustrated by Rebecca Harry
This new release is perfect for teaching young readers shapes, as the individualized angle will make them engaged and ready to learn. They have to find and count shapes, so it will help them with their numbers too. Bonus? You can feature your child's photo as well as three more family members or friends. They'll never want to put it down.
10. "The Little Girl or Boy Who Found Their Friends"
A sequel to Lost My Name, this book has all the fun of the first story in the series, plus fun fictional characters your child will come to think of as friends. It's up to them to find them as they flip the pages, and the thrill of seeing themselves in print won't get old. Add a special dedication at the beginning to make it extra special.
11. "Who Loves Me?" by Jennifer Dewing, illustrated by Marie Cardouat
This book would be a great baby shower or first birthday gift, as it's all about who loves the little reader. When personalizing the book, you get to list the names of friends and family members who love the child, and you'll get a book that explains just how much each person cares about the recipient. It's full of thoughtful rhymes and a sweet message that's sure to make your kiddo feel the love from everyone featured.
12. "Rainy Day Picnic" by Sharon Chriscoe
I like this book because it's personalized but still feels like a natural story, one in which your child just happens to be the protagonist. Plus, it's meta because it's a narrative about a little one who has to find ways to stay entertained indoors when it rains, and odds are you'll end up reading it to them when it's not great outside. Bonus: include two family photos and a dedication for even more specialization.
13. "Where Are You...?"
Think of this book as Where's Waldo?, but your kid is the one hiding. The story contains 6 alternate universes with 6 different versions of them they have to find, plus other adventures just for fun. It'll keep them entertained for hours.
14. "I Can Change The World" by Jennifer Dewing, illustrated by Marie Cardouat
If you're looking to inspire your little one, this personalized book is a great option, as it's all about the ways your kid can make a difference, even when they're still young. The book will feature their name throughout and a photo of them at the beginning of the text.
15. "The Elf Who Saved Christmas"
You'll want to work this book into your Christmas Eve story time routine, as it adds a personal perspective to the night before Christmas anticipation. It tells the story of a crisis at the North Pole that one special elf (your kiddo) has to fix, bringing them into the holiday magic. Snag it now so you'll be ready come the holidays.
16. "What Would You Like For Tea?" by Stephanie Shaw, illustrated by Rebecca Harry
Teach your little one all about colors and animals in What Would You Like For Tea, a playful story all about what different creatures would snack on at an afternoon tea. Your little one's face will be featured throughout the story, so they'll feel like they're really making friends with the characters.