Shortly before Christmas I was introduced to Bookabees a lovely new book club for children and asked to try out one of their monthly subscription packages.
Similar to a library, the idea behind Bookabees is that your child can enjoy 1, 3 or 5 new books each month before returning them to be replaced by more beautiful books. However better than a library, the Bookabees books are delivered directly to your door in a fabulous personalized pack containing all sorts of other goodies such as stickers and interactive activities to grab your child’s attention.
All books are handpicked by educational experts based on your child’s age, reading stage and interests and there’s an option to specifically select books which you think your child will enjoy if you so wish. At the end of the month you simply pop the books back in the post via the pre-paid delivery box and they will be replaced by more tantalising reads the next month ready for you child to enjoy. There’s also an option to keep the most loved books and purchase them for 50% off the retail price. Winner Winner!
Meet the Maker
I’ll go into more detail about how the whole process works below, but before I do, I thought it would be useful to have a little word with the founder to find out exactly what Bookabees is all about. As with all small brands I feature, I always like to get to know the face behind the brand and why they decided to set up their chosen company. In this instance Bookabees was established by a Father, Adrian who is passionate about education.
I asked Adrian what was driving factor behind setting up Bookabees? and his answer was clear:
Bookabees’ mission is simple – to put more of the right books into more children’s hands. I along with a group of like-minded teachers and parents, was becoming increasingly alarmed by trends of falling child literacy rates, closing libraries and the attitude that, for many children, reading is a chore.
I made it my personal mission to change this by recapturing children’s attention with more of the right books and saving the age-old ritual of parent and child sharing a story before bed.
When I asked him why keeping the habit of reading physical books is so important to children in a time when we are moving over to an increasingly online word? He replied that ‘the habit of reading physical books enables us to capture the imagination of a child beyond the words on the page, allowing them to fully immerse themselves into the whimsical world of the book. Sometimes it might be easier to put on a movie or online game, but placing a physical book between parent and child creates a moment that will be cherished as they share the story together’.
I couldn’t agree with Adrian more, I think reading books is so important and want to try and encourage it as much as possible so it doesn’t become a lost art! I understand completely how a book can capture a child’s imagination more than a film, you only have to take Harry Potter as an example! Whilst the films were amazing, how many of us found them a bit of a let down after reading the books first. Nothing beats the journey our own imagination can take us on.
So how does Bookabees work??
I was invited to pick out a subscription box for Ettie and I was more than excited to do so, we absolutely love reading together and it always forms part of our evening routine. Experts on reading have discovered that a child who reads is more likely to be successful in their ability to build relationships, achieve academically and be creative and I cant argue with that!
Choosing your books
There are three subscription packages available including Little; one book a month for 4.99, Big; 3 books for 8.99 and Bigger five books for 10.99. There’s no ongoing commitment and you can change, stop or pause your membership at any time. We decided to try our the Bigger package, because I was off for a few weeks over Christmas so we had lots of opportunities to sit together and read.
The process begins by entering the name, age and gender of your child into the app, then the clever algorithm creates a recommended book queue based on your child’s interests. You can be as involved with the selection process as you like! If you just want great books to turn up every month without having to lift a finger, then the Bookabees service will handpick books for your child and whisk them off to you once a month. However if you’d like a little more control then you can browse the site and add books to your ‘queue’ at any time.
The site allows you to add up to 15 books for your shortlist and as we’d opted for the Bigger Package, we could also add five books to the queue for our next box (although obviously this would be tailored to whatever option you went for). If there are books you’ve already read or that you think your child wont enjoy, then you can skip them and move onto the next recommendation.
With Christmas around the corner, I decided to use the search facility to pick out some Christmas themed books for Ettie and add them to our December box. There were so many lovely options, including all the Christmas themed ‘That’s not my… ‘ books which Ettie absolutely loves! I was grateful for this, because whilst they are great books, they do get a bit repetitive. Bookabees gave us the flexibility to pick out a couple to try and enjoy, then if there really was one she loved over the others we could choose to purchase it at a later date with 50% off the price.
The arrival of our books
The books were delivered in personalised parcel with Ettie’s name on (her full name is Arrietty for those who didn’t know) and included lots of fun extras such a stickers, a door hanger, bookmark and a Christmas card to colour in. Ettie was so excited when they first arrived… a parcel all for her!! She loved opening up the box and pulling out the contents and I can imagine this is something older kids will enjoy just as much, it was a really lovely part of the experience.
We had great fun over Christmas reading the books together and she loved pointing out the donkey in the story of Christmas. It also felt great at the end of the month when I was able to send the books back, rather than just store them on our loft for a year, knowing she’ll probably have outgrown them in a years time.
Rate and return
Once you have finished the books you can rate them – there is a small card in the back of the book that allows you to mark your name and how many stars you give it, or there’s the same option on the website as you go through the book selection process. The rating mechanism helps with the selection process later on as it provides the algorithm with more information on the kind of books your child likes.
Cost-wise Bookabees works out at roughly the same price as buying the books new, however because of the no hassle delivery service and the added extras in the box, I think Bookabees adds more value to the reading experience and is a great way for children to experience new books. At the moment I think Ettie is a little young to appreciate a new book every month, but I can imagine an older child getting really excited at their monthly delivery being addressed specifically to them.
Whilst I know there are local libraries available offering a similar service, studies have shown that the use of libraries is dwindling, with some local libraries closing altogether (*sad face). If this has happened in your area, or you simply don’t have the time to visit a library or you like the thought of a monthly book subscription service so you dont have a gazillion books cluttering up your home then Bookabees is definitely for you.
To ease you into the service, I have a discount code exclusivley for my readers which entitles you to TWO MONTHS HALF PRICE membership. Simply enter the code ‘ETTIEME‘, at check out to enjoy two months at the discounted rate. As I mentioned above the service can be paused or suspended at any time by logging into the website and its really simple to use.
If you do have any questions please pop them into the comments box below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org