iPhoto on the Mac and several PC-friendly photo websites make it incredibly easy to publish a book with custom photos and text, for under $30. I think that this is a totally underused service, and one that is dynomite for families, especially adoptive familes.
Imagine the possibilities:
- Sending a book to your preadoptive child with pictures of your family, your home, and your neighborhood, with labels in English and their native language.
- Creating a gorgeous hardbound lifebook, without any "scrapbooking" skillz whatsoever.
- Printing a smaller, pocket-size "flipbook security blanket" of reassuring people and places, for difficult daycare and school transitions, or for scary moments in the middle of the night.
- Using this for custom "social stories", with scripts and Stuart Smiley affirmations for situations your child may be struggling with. Photos and optimistic narrations of your child's bedtime routine, eventual toilet training success, trips to loud stores, a photo-rehearsal of the bus trip to school, and so on ...
- Or do-it-yourself books on your child's obsession du jour. My friends made an incredible photobook of big machinery from Dad's bike commute, through the Ballard locks, along the train lines, past the tugboats, through the sculpture garden construction site, and to the downtown office towers. The narration was personal and better-written than most books in this genre, and the whole project from photos to book order took less than a day. Their vehicle-obsessed 2-year-old loves it ... best birthday present EVER.