Blog / 2019 / You Are (Not) the Center of the Universe.

September 7, 2019

When I told a friend about my Kickstarter campaign for a personalized-yet-community-oriented children’s book, their response was to point me to this company which prints books specifically for your kid, using your child’s name in a variety of ways.

Wonderbly’s personalized birthday book
Wonderbly’s Happy Birthday to You

The company’s site extols the “positive power of personalization” claiming: “studies show that when children see themselves in a story, it has a profound effect on their literacy and language development.”

What it fails to tell you is that kids don’t have to see their names in order to relate to storylines, and to suggest that they do is to hugely underestimate a child’s imagination. I’d even argue that, when you raise a kid to need to see their name in order to care, you’re raising someone who’s going to have a hard time being empathetic.

But if that’s the case, why am I asking people to suggest kids’ names to be included in my book?

Because in the end it’s not just one name, but hundreds. Kids might be picking out their own names among my brushstrokes, but, as they search, they’ll also learn others—including names they’ve never heard of, from cultures they don’t know. They’ll start to see that they are not alone at the center of the universe, but part of an interconnected web of humanity.

I’m not a multi-million dollar company with slick marketing: personalization isn’t just a gimmick to get you to fund my book. It’s an invitation to be a part of something larger.

You can add a name to the book starting at the $30 pledge level here.

Gwenn Seemel’s ABC book
detail of a digital mock-up for animal alphabet book

This is a digital mock-up to give you an idea of what the embedded names are going to look like, though in the book everything will be hand-painted. There are more visuals of the name-embedding in this video.

Gwenn Seemel’s ABC book
digital mock-up for animal alphabet book

C could be for cat, but it could also be for chameleon, crocodile, capybara, or even coral! This image is meant to get your creativity going. Decide the C animal by going here and scrolling down to the C pledge tier of $170.


December 9, 2019

The project now has its own online gallery! You can check back here to see the series as a whole as it progresses.


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