Rachel Rustad and Birdie Johnson have been friends for nearly
40 years. About
They were sitting in a restaurant having coffee, not an uncommon activity for them, and they began writing story-starters on napkins. Incidentally, Birdie, the one who saves everything, still has those napkins! Anyway, as they wrote the story-starters and an introduction they realized that this wasn't really a children's book but a book for families whose members might be of any age from one to one hundred. They tried to get a publisher to print it. No luck. So they printed it themselves. That meant taking the pages to a printer, bringing home the printed pages, setting them out in stacks, and collating them page-by-page. Then they took the collated pages to a binding company where they put in a plastic comb-style binding. (Not the style of binding they use now.) Then they hauled it all back home and distributed it to buyers. It was very labor intensive and marketing the book was very time consuming so they only kept it going for about three years. They both had careers and families and there are only so many hours in a day. However, during those three years they sold 10,000 copies of The Storybook! That's a lot of collating.
They are now retired and feel more strongly than ever that families need to share their histories with the younger generations. As technology increases and story-telling decreases, they feel that gradually we are losing sight of our heritage, who our ancestors were, and what they may have to teach us about ourselves. Many people have lists of names and dates filled out on a family tree, but most of us don't have any idea whom these relatives really were.
So The Storybook has been updated, slightly revised, and is back in publication. This time they are produced by a publisher and available over the Internet. Rachel and Birdie hope that they bring families closer together and spark conversations and stories that might otherwise be lost forever. They believe the next generations will treasure them, find them a source of joy and be inclined to keep the stories going for the generations to follow.
Rachel and Birdie now both live not far from each other in rural Minnesota. Rachel is into quilting and baking bread and Birdie raises sheep and is involved with spinning and felting wool. They both still love stories, their own or anyone else's.
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