My name is Deanna Bufo Novak and I am the author of My Heritage Book and founder of kidsHeritage, Inc. I would like to take this opportunity to share a little about myself, my reasons for writing this very special book, and my journey (so far!).
First, my interest in heritage extends far beyond the book’s timing. In fact, I have been intrigued by it for as long as I can remember. I am of Italian descent and have always been proud of it. As a child, I would ask my great-grandfather about life in Italy, what it was like coming to America, and why we ate macaroni every Sunday; among countless other questions. I adored his broken-English answers and my love for heritage began. I grew up this way and I always wanted to learn more about my family and where we came from. Fortunately, I was constantly surrounded by family, including my great-grandfather, grandparents, parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Things are different today. Families, like my own, relocate everyday to different parts of the country and even the world. While modern technology helps us stay close to loved ones, e-mails and digital photos will never compare to the experience I had growing up. In addition, modern technology may also hinder a child’s heritage exploration. Today, children may spend more time watching television or playing computer games than talking, playing, and cooking with grandparents and great-grandparents. In my mind, they are being robbed of a truly wonderful experience. Moreover, the word “family” is more broadly defined than it was 30 years ago. There are more adoptions and remarriages, often times causing siblings to have entirely different heritages and bringing about an entirely new set of questions.
Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I felt a need for her to learn about being Italian and to be proud of it, as I am, but also wanted her to learn and be proud of her Polish and Czech heritage from her dad. I knew it would be a balancing act, but one well worth the effort. At the same time, I noticed that my mom suddenly seemed even more Italian and my mother-in-law seemed even more Polish. I realized they had the same feelings that I did and were trying to teach their granddaughter something very dear to their hearts, despite the fact that she was only a few weeks old! They were trying to teach her about her family, including her family’s traditions and her family’s history, and I thought she was a lucky little girl. I also thought every child should be so fortunate, and the idea for My Heritage Book was born.
After finding some wonderful people to work with, including Alicia Bresee, the incredibly talented illustrator for My Heritage Book, I began my exciting journey around the world with an enormous amount of research, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved learning about so many of the beautiful countries in this world and all that they have to offer–their charming traditions, colorful customs, delicious food, and so much more.
My Heritage Book is a very special book. It is about values, traditions, and family–however that may be defined. It is about celebrating our roots and all of our beautiful similarities and wonderful differences. It is about preserving family traditions and knowing that we are a part of something much larger than our individual selves.
On January 4, 2013, my dreams literally came true. I moved kidsHeritage from my own “small world” (i.e. the spare bedroom in my home) to Walt Disney World! Today, you can find My Heritage Book, along with all of our other books and products, in the American Adventure Pavilion (Heritage Manor Gift Shop) at Epcot. We create these beautiful keepsakes on property within 30-40 minutes for Disney guests. Please come visit us next time you are in Epcot!
I want to thank you for visiting our website and reading more about my journey. I sincerely hope the children who receive this book (and any of our books) will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I also hope children will be encouraged to learn more about their family’s heritage and own special traditions, as well as the beautiful world around them. Finally, I hope children will realize how very special their heritage is and that they should be proud of it – just as I wish for my own children!
~ Deanna Bufo Novak