I have always loved books and I lenjoyed creating this ABC book based upon our family as a gift for my great nieces, Christine and Ashlynn. This is a gift that came together with a little planning, gathering of photos, and a user-friendly book generator site. With an investment in time and infusion of your own creativity, you can create a one-of-a-kind book for that special toddler who brings joy to your life,
I remember sitting around the dinner table with my parents, two brothers, and my sister. Quite often, our parents would tell us that they figured we would end up at the four corners of the earth. Well, we all managed to stay within the borders of the United States, but like so many families today, we are miles apart. Currently we are spread from Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Pennyslvania, and Massachusetts. I was fortunate enough to spend time with my niece and her husband and her two children in February. That's when my wheels started turning. I wanted Christine to have some way to get to know us as a Hanig family. Thus was born, Christine's ABC Book, by Aunt Jolene.
How does one begin? Keep reading.
Planning, Gathering, Choosing
Step 1: Planning the ABC Book: Sit down and write out the alphabet on a piece of paper or in a Word document. Brainstorm possible people, places, and events to go with each letter of the alphabet. Don't worry if you can't think of a verse for a page or two. You can always come back to this step. I found it helpful to brainstorm with other family members to help me fill in the blanks.
Step 2: Gather photos for the book: Create a folder on your computer for the "ABC Book". Then, copy photos from your phone and computer into the folder. I was able to download photos that Christine's grandparents and parents had posted on Facebook. This involved a few simple steps: Click on the photo in Facebook > hover cursor on the bottom of the photo until a menu bar appeared > Click on "Option">"Download". Later, you can open your Downloads on your computer and save your photos to "ABC Book". This is undoubtedly the most labor intensive part of creating the book. Don't give up! It will be so worth it!
I also Googled some images for some pages and added them to the "ABC Book" folder. I needed images of popcorn, rhubarb, Nebraska, a "Yikes" emoji, and a globe. These were "necessary" to tell our family story.
Step 3: Choose a Book Creator Friendly Site: I chose to use Shutterfly to create my photo book. The site will guide you through selecting the size, theme, and ways to make a book. They have a number of themes, and as luck would have it, they had an ABC themed book.
As the page states, there are "Three great ways to make you book"
Of course, I chose "MAKE IT YOURSELF" and the "Custom Path".
The Launch Page
I call this the "Launch" page. Here is a screen shot of the main menu page. I encourage "excess" clicking on all the menu bar items at the top and sidebar. Click and explore all the ways you can add embellishments and personalize a book. I was amazed at how many treasures can be unlocked by a few simple clicks. The site truly gives you oodles of choices.
Shutterfly is relatively easy to use and my best suggestion is take some time to "click around" in the menu bars. There are many, many embellishments, frames, and stickers that can be added to pages to individualize and personalize the book.
Take a Peak
The cover page was already designed for me. I found it in the "Project" sidebar under "Idea Pages". I was able to use the main toolbar at the top of the "Launch Page" to "Add Text". This allowed me to add Christine's name to the book and my name as the author. You can also choose from other cover choices and layouts by clicking on "+ Get more idea pages."
I just discoverd that I could've added a "Title" page to the beginning of the book. Apparently, if I had opened the book and clicked on "Idea Pages" I could've included the above title page. That would've been fun. As I said, I encourage you to click around on the menu bars. There are so many ways to express your creativity on this site. Enjoy! (--and click, click, click away!!!)
The cute "a" and "ardvark were imported from Project > Embellishment > Sticker. Every letter of the alphabet and corresponding character are located in stickers. The black frame was found in Embellishments > Frames.
"E" can be a tricky letter to associate with a family member or an event, so I chose "E is for EVERYONE who loves you!" It's the perfect page to highlight a family photo.
The white leaf border for this page is another "ribbon" found in the Embellishments sidebar.
I was able to enhance this page with duck stickers. Isn't this a precious photo of my mom, Great-Grandma reading to Christine? I chose the background for this page from the Project Sidebar > Background.
Pets are family members, too. Ivy and puppy paw prints embellish this page with baby brother Isaac, and an inchworm sticker.
Justin loves cars, so I found these cute car stickers for the Aunt Jolene and Justin page.
Shutterfly gives you choices of fonts, font colors, and size. Readability and clarity are essential when selecting fonts, colors, and size. I used Futura Bold font for the main text. I selected Cattipilla font for photo captions. I wanted the captions to be a little more whimsical looking. Whenever possible, I made the caption font 28, so the font would be readable.
"O" can be a tough letter to match with family, too. I love the book Oh, The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss. I thought it was a perfect fit for the "O" page. I added the car and pennant ribbons to this page. I found the globe sticker in embellishments. It was a fun page to do.
Now, you know why I needed to download images from Google for popcorn and rhubarb crisp. My dad often made big bowls of popcorn on Saturday or Sunday nights for sharing. My mom makes a delicious rhubarb crisp. My brother took a photo of her original recipe. Having the photo of the recipe in her handwriting makes this page all the more special.
I was so fortunate to get these photos of my brother and sister-in-law's dog Ivy hiding "under" the blankets and walking "under" Grandma and Grandpa's flowering bushes and getting covered in blossoms.
Do you like the bubblegum pink frames? These and many more frames are available in the embellishment sidebar.
Are you concerned about those pesky letters: X, Y, Z ? Here's a little inspiration.
Pages can be added to the book. All you need to do is click on "Add Pages" in the top menu bar. I added this page at the end of the book.
What do you think?
I am very pleased with the book. The colors are vibrant. The quality of the paper is exceptional, and I feel the cost was reasonable. I will use Shutterfly again for other books. In fact, I was so pleased at how well this book turned out, I created ANOTHER one for my other brother and his wife's granddaughter, Ashlynn! I am the proud great-aunt of Ashlynn, Aden, Christine, and Isaac! With a little tweaking, I was able to use many of the same photos and pages for Ashlynn's ABC Book.
These books were made with love for two precious great-nieces. I wanted them to know us--"The Hanig Family" and know how much we love them. Yes, it took a little (OK a lot of) planning, gathering of photos, and navigating a user friendly book generator site to create. But, I think it was worth it. If you have a special little toddler in your family, I encouarage you to consider creating a one-of-a-kind ABC book personalized just for them. I'm betting it will be a treasured book, long after they've mastered their ABC's!