About 7 months ago, in the run-up to Christmas, I saw an ad on Youtube for this website called Wonderbly, which makes personalized books for children.
Yeah, you’ve seen those sort of companies before; they’re usually crap mass-produced generic slosh that fails to engage the average five-year-old.
This one isn’t.
These books are publisher-quality, and wouldn’t look out of place in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore.
I browsed through their site for a while. My baby would be four months old at Christmas and I wanted to get him a nice gift that we could use right away but also use later on, when he was old enough to appreciate it differently.
I’m a big believer in reading to children, and was reading to him and taking him places to hear foreign languages ever since he was in my tummy. Studies have shown that children who read (or have read to them) five books a day have a much higher vocabulary and better command of their language when they are older.
So I looked through this site and two things struck me immediately:
- The illustrations were really, really high quality and modern.
- The book plots had been properly thought out and there was a huge range of stories. These were real stories with interesting plots, but personalized for each order.
So I put “A Letter for the Littlest Bear” in my basket and up popped a configurator sort of thing, where I could choose which characters appeared in the book (within a pre-set list), whether to add or remove any (if you don’t want an Uncle Bear because Aunty Bear is painfully single, you can remove Uncle Bear from the story) and also, of course, add my baby’s name, which featured on a page near the end. The story also gave you the option to write a letter to your littlest bear, so if you had some hopes, dreams, and pearls of wisdom to share and immortalize at the end of the book, you could do that. They also had a pre-drafted one in case you weren’t feeling inspired, to save you time and mental effort. I liked what they’d written but wanted to add some stuff, so I kinda blended the two.
Once I had my A Letter for the Littlest Bear book configured, I found another book in their store which looked interesting. It was called The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (the girl version is The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name and they have plenty of gender neutral stories such as A Letter for the Littlest Bear, discussed above, if that’s your thing) and I think it’s their biggest-selling book. I typed in my baby’s 8-letter name and each letter of his name got a couple of pages of subplot story. I switched a couple of the characters around (I changed a robot for a rabbit because we like rabbits around here, I changed something else too but I forget what or why). I was able to preview the whole book before buying and the payment process was painless.
My two books arrived in good time and were ready for Christmas. Except we flew back home to our families for Christmas and stupidly left the books in the country where we live. D’OH.
Still, it made a fabulous New Year’s gift for a four-month-old baby’s first Christmas season, when he had no real concept of what day it was. I was delighted with the quality and the amount of effort that the creators of these books had obviously gone to, to make a truly cherishable gift. And there’s such a range of books, I can tell grandma bear, grandpa bear, auntie bear and cousin bear about this place and practically guarantee that we don’t end up with eight copies of “Bob’s Day On A Plane” unlike the ones that are available elsewhere.
For comparison, we got a cheap (cheap quality; it probably cost the same money) off-the-shelf personalized book for Christmas off a relative and they hadn’t even bothered finding the correct name of our child. His name is NOT Archie! FFS.
Verdict: Five out of five. Definitely worth the money. I will be buying from here again next time I want a unique and special gift for someone.
Oh, and did I mention they have local sites for many countries and worldwide shipping? So if you’re stationed in some random country with your family you can still order this!
Where to buy: https://www.wonderbly.com/
Have you used Wonderbly? Let me know your experiences in the comments!