In the Beginning... – MagneTree Books

In the Beginning...

I’m often asked how Ronny and I came up with the idea for MagneTree Personalized Kids Books. I tell people about our nephews overseas reciting all of our names before going to bed, as a way to foster familiarity when we are so far apart. Yes, that is how the idea first sparked, but it’s not the reason I am 100% - all in – knee deep – and heart racing towards building this company.

The day MagneTree grew from an experiment to a life goal was when my nephew, living on the other side of the world, said my name.

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From an early age my nephew had been living very far away from us. This, coupled with his (and my own) shyness made our bond...well, nonexistent. I visited him a handful of times but otherwise he didn’t know me (I mean, what do you say to a baby or a toddler on Skype, I was stumped.) So when my brother and I came up with the idea of including pictures of ourselves in my nephew’s storytime we had to test it out with a prototype. My mother was flying in 2 days and we scrambled to put together a quick story which we pasted inside a Dr. Seuss book. We printed a few magnets of all our family members and sent the prototype on its way. When our nephew first used the book we got excited to see him play with the magnets and interact with the faces he knew best – mommy, daddy, granny...but my name was only said when prompted and encouraged by my brother. After a couple of weeks my brother reported back that our book was my nephew’s new favourite and that he read it every night. But then something incredible happened.

One day, while having his diaper changed, my nephew told my brother about his plans for later in the afternoon. He was going to eat an ice cream cone and then go to the park. “Oh really? Who’s going to be at the park?” my brother asked, expecting to hear his own name, or maybe the name of a friend or two from daycare. But instead, he heard “Auntie Josie and baby Lenny.”

And just like that, I had become a real character in his imagination and a person in his life. He knew me. After all I had missed, he knew me.



  • Janine

    I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes!! This book does amazing things for families spread out all over the world and turns out globe into a global village!

  • Kristine

    Hi from the blogshop! What a great idea! I have a niece and nephew in Boston and I worry about being the faceless stranger auntie as well.

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