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January 24, 2013

Tell your kids about their heritage with personalized books sold at Epcot

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Deanna Bufo Novak

A new retail stand at Epcot shares the same mission as the World Showcase portion of the Walt Disney World park -- to educate visitors about countries around the globe. In this case, though, the nations are those that make up an individual child's heritage.

At kidsHeritage, Inc., guests design personalized books for the children in their lives. Each My Heritage Book can have up to four countries -- chosen from a list of 72 so far -- whose stories are woven into a light-hearted, yet educational, narrative that includes the child's name. There also is a letter to the child explaining his or her heritage, and pages where family customs can be hand-written and a family tree completed.

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The books are bound in the theme park and only take about 30 minutes to complete. Each My Heritage Book is priced at $42.95.

Can't find a country on the established list? The author, Deanna Bufo Novak, takes requests and will create pages just for you. She works with a panel of experts, including teachers and citizens from the countries, to ensure her research is accurate. This process takes two to three months per country. If you're lucky, the country you request already may be in the works, shortening your delivery time.

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Scott Novak

kidsHeritage, Inc. started as an Internet company eight years ago (MyHeritageBook.com), and its products have been featured in the Red Envelope catalog and at children's boutiques. Novak's husband, Scott, said the idea for the books came about when their daughter was born and they were searching for a way to share their Italian and Polish heritage with her.

Apparently, they weren't alone. Today, more than 70 percent of the books they produce include Italy as one of the four requested countries, Scott Novak said.

When pressed to name a country she is looking forward to adding to her catalog, Deanna Bufo Novak said the Bahamas are at the top of her list. "My family and I have gone there since I was a little girl. Now, we take my own children. " While I do know a lot about it from visiting so often, I am really looking forward to seeing it "come to life" with the information and beautiful illustrations and be a part of My Heritage Book."

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kidsHeritage also offers a book for younger children called "ABCs Around the World." These books teach the alphabet while taking the reader on a journey through 26 countries. This book can be personalized with a child's name, birth date, and photo, as well as the gift-giver's name, on the passport page. The child's name also appears on pages with letters from his or her name, to familiarize the child with spelling. The personalized version of "ABCs Around the World" sells for $37.95.

The Novaks also have developed related products such as an "ABCs Around the World" poster, jumbo puzzle and coloring book and a "My Heritage" bookmark and prints.

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"I started this [company] as a solution to a specific problem I was having - I wanted a tool to help me teach my daughter about her heritage. What I didn't realize then is the much broader implication of teaching children about heritage," Novak said. "Specifically, over the years, and through many discussions with parents, grandparents, children, and teachers, I have learned that teaching children about their own heritages leads to a greater understanding of the cultural diversity that surrounds them daily. Having a sense of pride in who they are helps them to be strong and confident individuals. As such, they are more likely to ask questions and want to learn about differences, rather than make judgments based on them."

The kidsHeritage, Inc., retail stand is located to the right of the American Adventure, across from the America Gardens Theatre. It's open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and Novak is there most days.

Novak, who has a degree in journalism but was a practicing attorney until she started this company, said she is living her dream today.

"I am a true testament to 'Dreams Come True!' " she said. "I had an idea, worked harder than I have ever worked in my life to turn it into a reality, and, most importantly, never gave up -- and there were a few times that I wasn't sure I could do it anymore -- because I believed in it so very much. Every morning, when I arrive at Epcot, I am in awe that I am really here and always incredibly thankful for this amazing opportunity."


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About My Heritage Book

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the My Heritage Book category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Living Seas Salon is the previous category.

Segway tours is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.