CARLSBAD — “Once upon a time … ” has lulled children to sleep for years. But now, as family dynamics change and loved ones are separated by distance, divorce or deployment, children frequently fall asleep without these soothing words.
Heather Hultgren knows how special it is to hear those magical words, and has vowed to never let an opportunity to do so be missed. As the creator of Cherished Voices, a personalized storytelling product, she hopes that every child will be connected to loved ones through the nostalgic process of hearing a bedtime story.
Hultgren has worked one-on-one with authors, including Justin Matott and Marianne Richmond, who write inspirational books perfect for story time. The books have beautiful illustrations that will delight children as they listen to a story read by someone special.
“They’re heartwarming books that make kids feel so special and so unique,” she said.
The process is simple — order a gift package, dial the toll-free number and start reading. When you finish reading, Hultgren takes over and creates a personalized CD with the recorded story to include in the gift package.
With 18 books to choose from, Cherished Voices is great for birthdays, welcoming new arrivals and just reminding little ones of how great they are. Classic books like “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch, who personally approved the book with Hultgren, are also available.
Cherised Voices has proven to be a really special experience for deployed parents wanting to connect with their little ones at home in a special way. Capt. Rosanna Brown was stationed in Baghdad when she acted as a guinea pig for the Cherished Voices process. She read “Hooray for You” for her young daughter back in the states, a book celebrating just how great a child is.
“It was the perfect message I want to send to her,” Brown said.
With a simple phone call and surprisingly clear reception, Hultgren was thrilled to connect Brown with her daughter through such a unique way. She hopes that other soldiers will hear about the product and use it as a way to comfort their children, whether they’re deployed for three months or a year.
“Items that can make it a little better — a little easier — are so important,” Hultgren said.
As the Christmas season rolls around, Hultgren is offering a “Donate a Gift” program so people can chip in and help a solider send a gift package to their child. People can split the cost of a gift to brighten the day of a child whose parent is serving our country during the holiday season.
While children will delight in stories like “Hooray for You” and “You Are My Wish Come True,” they aren’t the only ones who will benefit from a personalized story reading. Cherished Voices offers stories like “When Did I Meet You Grandpa?” and “When Did I Meet You Grandma?” so kids can read to their grandparents, letting them know just how special they are too.
Hultgren’s youngest, 6-year-old Kayla, picked out a story to read to her grandma. “I wanted to read a book to her because she likes books,” Kayla said. “She thinks I’m special.”
With this unique and special keepsake, children and adults alike are sure to live “happily ever after.”
To learn more about the Cherished Voices product or to donate a gift package to the troops, head to www.cherishedvoices.com.