I know I was given many books as a little girl, but the first one I remember receiving came through the mail. (Mail! For me! That hadn’t happened before!) It came a few weeks before my 5th birthday, and my mom said I wasn’t allowed to open it until my birthday. It was a very heavy package, and I spent a lot of time wondering what could be in it. Then, finally, I was allowed to open it: a book! It was a copy of The Beginners Bible, which I would go on to read hundreds of times, but in that moment what was most impressive to me was that right there on the cover, the gift-giver had had my name embossed in gold. I was charmed, and have been with the best personalized children’s books ever since.
There’s a reason books are such popular children’s gifts. When you give a kid a book, it feels like so much more than just a gift: it feels like you’re giving their young minds something to grow on. It can be a way to share a piece of your childhood with them so you automatically have something wonderful in common. So how better to make that gift extra special than to have it personalized with the child’s name, illustrative avatar, and even their hobbies?
I’ve rounded up lots of wonderful options for the best personalized children’s books. The personalization options range from just a name on the cover of a classic book to whole stories built around your child’s name! I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the options. Gone are the days of just dropping a scan of a school portrait into a book: now many of these websites allow you to choose from varying numbers of options to create a custom main character or your story based on your child’s appearance and preferences. Some sites have more diverse options than others, and that diversity varies book to book. All books with customizable avatars have a white and Black skin tone option, but not all go beyond that. I only noticed one book with a glasses option. (My Search-and-Find World Trip, which is second only to The Tree the Key and Me for sheer number of customization options.) Overall, Librio had the most varied options.
Watch for holiday order deadlines if you’re planning to give one of the personalized children’s books this holiday season!
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
Let’s start with a classic: Graphic Image has created a gorgeous leather-bound edition of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic nighttime book. You can add a message up to 24 characters to the cover. It’s not cheap: it’s $75, and the personalization is an additional $10, but this is truly an heirloom gift.
A Tale of Two by Librio
A Tale of Two can be personalized for two children! Perfect for siblings, cousins, or even best friends, this is a an adventurous story that follows your children as they play hide and seek in a library! Create characters from a variety of skin tone, eye color, and more options!
What could be better than a gorgeous collection of Frozen stories personalized just for the “Let It Go” fanatic in your life? This edition comes with a slipcover. The cover and running header (the words at the top of every page) will say “Created especially for YOUR CHILD’S NAME” and you can include a gift message on the title page. This isn’t a wealth of options compared to the rest of the books on the list, but if you’re a Frozen household, this may be all you need.
Welcome to the World by Librio
For the brand new babies in your life! Welcome to the World is designed to inspire wonder in parents as they remember all the beauty and strangeness they will show to their little one as they grow.
My Search-and-Find World Trip by Librio
It’s Where’s Waldo custom-designed for your favorite kid! This is an especially fun customization: The book becomes Where’s YOUR KID’S NAME HERE and you can even customize the illustration of your child! Choose skin tone, hair color and style, clothing, and there’s even a glasses option. Then your kid is off on a whirlwind, world-wide adventure to seek-and-find.
The Tree, The Key, & Me by Librio
This is a wonder-filled adventure storybook featuring your child! Can they save the forest before all the color disappears? You can customize the main character illustration from 8000 possible combinations of skin color, hair color and style, and more. It’s available in several European languages.
My Very Own Fairy Tale Storybook by Maia Haag and Joyce Patti
Your little one can be transported into a magical fairyland where the inhabitants crown them fairy princess and various fairies bring them flowers and describe a pleasant attribute for every letter of your child’s name. Includes 62 facts about flowers and other woodland creatures.
A Christmas Dream for Me by i See Me
Sweet rhymes describe a marvelous Christmas dream while soft illustrations repeatedly feature your child’s name. I imagine it’s a fair representation of how Tim Allen felt in The Santa Clause.
My Snuggle Bunny by Maia Haag and John Butler
Learn all the ways that snuggle bunny loves your little one! You can even upload a photo of your child to appear on the dedication page. There is an option to include a super soft stuffed Jellycat bunny that matches the illustrations in the story.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and William Nicholson
Get the beloved classic about a little stuffed bunny who learns what it is to become real. This edition features the original illustrations by William Nicholson and it comes in a beautiful presentation box. Personalization options include your child’s name on the cover (The Velveteen Rabbit for Charlie), your choice of one of eight dedication messages, and a line for the giver’s name.
The Elf Who Saved Christmas by Wonderbly
A surprising few of these custom books make your kid a character in an actual story, so I was pleased to see that this book turns your kid into one of Santa’s elves, and that of course they save the day.
Happy Birthday to You by Wonderbly
This story changes based on your child’s name and age! The cover features a number-shaped balloon based on your child’s age, and their name is repeated throughout the fun story. You can even choose the cover color!
That’s My Cake by Wonderbly
Having trouble with sharing in your house? That’s My Cake is a fun way to learn about the value of sharing, and you can include up to four custom children in the book! Choose from 12 different illustrations of various skin tones for each child, and the publisher will vary the heights of the children based on their ages.
The Christmas Snowflake by Julia Gray and Diana Renjina
A delicate snowflake is looking for a place to call home in this lovely customizable book with glowing illustrations and sweet rhymes. Add up to nine family members in this sweet story about spending Christmas with those you love.
Your Remarkable Rebels by Wonderbly
Many of these books are for the picture book set, so I was excited to see books for kids who are ready to read on their own—the publisher specifies ages 6–10. This book is the custom book world’s version of a Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: you can choose three remarkable historical figures to inspire your kid. Choose from Florence Nightingale, Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King Jr., and more.
Kingdom of You by Wonderbly
Kingdom of You is a silly, fun wish fulfillment book about what a kingdom ruled by your child would look like. Choose from six avatars (three boys and three girls with the option of white skin and blonde hair, white skin and brown hair, or brown skin and textured hair. Wonderbly usually has more extensive appearance options than this, so I was surprised!), then pick an interest (animals, super heroes, princesses), and pick from a few kid friendly foods. Then they’ll get a story about a genie fulfilling all of their wishes based on your answers.
What Kind of You Will You Be? by Wonderbly
This story is in the Oh, The Places You’ll Go genre of empowering books that help a child look forward. In this sweet book, your child’s name is featured 78 times, and rhyming text encourages them to have big dreams. (Many of these books emphasize the number of times your child’s name is featured, and I guess in customized children’s book terms, that’s bang for your buck.)
You Are Extraordinary Journal by Wonderbly
This full-color journal is a great option for older kids! Fun prompts help them think about what it is that makes them really special, and growth mindset activities set them up for a lifetime of confidence.
Where Are You? by Wonderbly
Where Are You? is a fun seek and find with that sends your kids on a trip through six different “universes”: they can be a chef, a ghost hunter, a pop star, a vet and more. It’s a fun, slightly sci-fi twist on the seek-and-find and there are 12 different possible avatars.
My Golden Ticket by Wonderbly
Put your child right in the middle Roald Dahl’s world—but in a non-terrifying way. This book is their golden ticket to Wonka’s factory, and they’ll get to “invent” sweets based on their names! They even get their very own Oompa-Looma song. Again: this is a non-terrifying version. The purchaser even has the option of including themselves as a stand-in for Grandpa Joe!
Check out even more of the best gifts for book lovers in 2020 here!