Imagine a mat filled with baby toys: colorful, musical, cuddly objects. Now enter baby… playing with a plastic lid.
This is the scene that brought Ashley Krupp to write her first children’s book, Special to You, Special to Me. Although their home was filled with wonderful age-appropriate toys for their then one-year-old daughter, often times Krupp found that her baby would forego toys in lieu of any random household item. She was far more interested in a water bottle, a hat, or a pair of sunglasses. Initially, this sparked frustration, until Krupp had an “ah ha” moment. Maybe her daughter was more interested in her personal items for just that reason: they are hers. Maybe the baby wanting to explore her purse or dig through the cupboards was simply her wanting to be like mommy. A phrase popped into Krupp’s head, “Mommy, can’t you see? If it’s special to you, it’s special to me.”
Soon, Krupp’s rhyming tale was written. Intended for babies and toddlers, the speaker of this story is the child, talking to the parent. It is a sweet and humorous reminder that our children are always watching and learning from us, no matter how young they are. As parents, we are our children’s first and main role models.
Special to You, Special to Me is filled with rhyme and repetition, both important components for early literacy. Books with repetition are wonderful for little ones, allowing them to participate in reading. Repetition creates familiarity and anticipation, making story time exciting and enjoyable for young children. Repetition also supports brain development, creating strong neural pathways in the brain. Memory and sequencing skills are strengthened by repetition and it helps to build vocabulary.
During her eight years as a teacher and Assistant Director of a Fraser nonprofit preschool, Krupp saw the academic benefits of offering children books with photographs, rather than only illustrated fiction and cartoon-like fairy tales. Nearly all children’s books are fantasy, depicting animals that can talk and walk on two feet. While such books are great for little imaginations, babies and young children learn best through reality. Books with photographs are vital for development, allowing children to develop empathy and learn to appreciate the beauty of the real world around them. Such books can be difficult to find or are associated with dull textbooks. This led Krupp to enlist the help of her sister, Angela WIhelm, an award-winning photojournalist based in Asheville, North Carolina.
The two held a photoshoot in Asheville and Wilhelm captured bright, crisp photos of a diverse group of families to illustrate Special to You, Special to Me. Caitlin Sullivan, a kindergarten teacher in the Asheville area, was among the first to volunteer to participate in the project. Her husband, John, and son, Brayden, are among three other parent/child duos highlighted in the book. Sullivan said, “We wanted to participate because we feel so blessed with our little family, and we wanted to share that love with others! We are so honored to be a part of a children’s book that celebrates the special bond between children and parents!”
Determined to bring their project to life, without waiting for an unlikely “Yes” from a publisher, Krupp and Wilhelm decided to self-publish their book. After tedious book design, endless communications with a printing company, the purchase of an ISBN number and copyrights, their work finally came to fruition – in the form of an actual board book.
Krupp has donated the book to Grand County libraries and is in the process of reading at all local story times. Special to You, Special to Me can currently be purchased at Lion Head Coffee in Granby or online at www.ashleykrupp.com. A project fueled and completed with love by two cross-country sisters, Krupp and Wilhelm have endless ideas and have already begun on future companion books. Stay tuned!