By Cynthia Coulon
rJust a few days ago some very special kids at Lincoln Elementary received some brand new storybooks. But these weren’t your typical stories or books — they were custom books, with one-of-a-kind stories about each unique child!
These personal storybooks came from My Story Matters, a local charitable organization that celebrates courage in everyday heroes by helping them tell their stories. The process includes interviewing and photographing each participant. Then, over the course of several weeks, volunteer writers and editors combine the stories and pictures into unique books.
The day the books get delivered is always full of anticipation and excitement for the givers and receivers!
Miss McMullin is a teacher at Lincoln Elementary and some of her students were those who just received the gift of story. She has been teaching at Lincoln for 17 years and explained that many children arrive here as refugees straight from countries in crisis. “They often don’t have many things to call their own,” she said. That can make the gift of story extra-special!
Katie Zackrison, an intern for My Story Matters, was there for “delivery day” at Lincoln. She said, “The kids started looking through their books by themselves, but then they quickly began to share their stories with each other. They laughed and smiled and it was really such a beautiful moment of joy. It’s wonderful to see children connect with themselves through telling their stories, then connect with others by sharing them!”
Katie sat down with a boy, Fahed, who had just received his book. He told Katie that his favorite picture was the one with him posing as a superhero with the caption, “I am strong.” He said it was a cool picture because he didn’t have anything else like it, and it helped him remember important things. “I was impressed with how intently he looked through his book and how excited he was to take it home to show his family,” Katie said.
A storybook recipient named Anna showed her book to My Story Matters Board Member, Lona Marie Cook. As they browsed through Anna’s story, Lona Marie noticed that Anna loved the picture of herself looking at her own reflection in the mirror. “She said she liked to see herself thinking,” Lona Marie explained. “I know she was struggling with feeling accepted among her peers, but that one picture said to me that she is going to be able to reflect on who she really is. I hope it will help her see how amazing she is and how she can do hard things.”
A single storybook might seem like a small thing, but it can be a very meaningful gift when it celebrates the unique path of a child and points to a bright future. If you’d like to assist in giving the gift of story, please go to www.mystorymatters.org to find out how you can get involved!