Bookabees is a book club specifically set up for children under the age of 11. They do a range of sizes, the most popular being the £4.49 per month box which includes three books. Having just recently joined a book club myself I was intrigued by the idea of a book club for children. I also like the idea of passing books on, as our son has way too many books (seriously sometimes I think he lives in a library!) so the idea of rating a book and then sending it on so that someone else to enjoy really appealed to me.
When you sign up to Bookabees you give them information about your child and can see the range of books that may interest them, selecting the ones you think will appeal the most. I chose three books that I thought would go down well with our boy and was pleased when a few days later I received an email to let me know they were on their way.
My son very much enjoys getting his own post, as you can see! It was lovely to see how excited he was and I was proud that his excitement was because of books, not Netflix, or the iPad, or something Paw Patrol or Trolls related. He tore open the box with excitement and we had a look through what we had!
Inside were the three books as well as a set of bookmarks to colour in, a door hanger, some crazy glasses and stickers. He loves his stickers so these goodies kept him engrossed for a while and he took himself off to colour in the bookmarks that evening. He requested one of the books that evening so we toddled off to bed with Pirate Pat under our arm.
Pirate Pat – co-operative reading
I hadn’t read up too much on this one, my son loves Pirates and it looked fun so I picked it from the list! However if I had been being a #goodparent then I would have found out that this book is part of Usborne’s very first reading series. It’s a simple book but it allows the reader to read from the left page and then using simple phonics and short words the child can then read the words on the right page. As our son starts school later this year it was nice to read a book that supports the Letters and Sounds programme that many primary schools use and it was lovely to see him start to learn and repeat the words. In fact this has now become a bit of a firm favourite at bedtime.
Aerodynamics of biscuits
Ok so I confess I chose this purely for the title alone. I didn’t realise it was also a pirate story but that’s just a bonus. As our son has been learning about space and different ways of travelling at nursery I thought that a book that featured biscuits, cheese, space, rockets (and pirates) might be a good one…and it is! It’s a simple tale, but the illustrations are good, and it leaves you on a bit of a cliffhanger at the end so we use it as an opportunity to talk about what the (admittedly rather inept) pirate mice will get up to next!
Dragon on the doorstep
It was lovely to find a book that also featured a CD – it just proves that these are premium books that are sent out. I’m still not wholly convinced on this story, there are two children who keep finding animals in places as they are trying to put them away. Then they go outside and all play…but maybe I am over analysing it! What I do like about it is that it’s bright and fun and on each page you can find clues about the next animal they are going to find. I am sure that this will be one of the first books our boy starts to read himself because it is simple and so visual, plus the clues will help prompt him. We haven’t listened to the CD yet but I am sure we will.
Rate and return
Once you have finished the books you can rate them – there is a small card in the back that allows you to mark your name and how many stars you will give it before you send them back. Alternatively you can choose to keep them and pay 50% of the RRP. It’s lovely to see what previous readers thought and in a way this is a bit like a ‘try before you buy’ scheme in some ways. However this is where I do think Bookabees comes slightly unstuck. Excluding the fact you get to pick the books and they are new releases, I am not sure how this could compete with local libraries or charity shops. Both of which are much cheaper or indeed, free. I put this question to Adrian at Bookabees who told me; “Worryingly library use is not particularly widespread and on average a UK child borrows only 3 books per annum. The use of libraries is low for a whole host of reasons (they’re shutting due to financial pressures / visiting during opening hours is impossible / they’re too far away).” He has a point but I wonder if I’ve just been quite lucky as I’ve always had access to a local library, and to charity shops.
A new way of accessing books
Perhaps I’m just being a bit cynical but I wonder if £4.49 per month plus (for example) an additional £5 if you choose to buy one book each time is achievable for most families. That’s £10 (or thereabouts) each month on one book. I put this to Adrian, “Bookabees is a ‘top-up’ to the current ways in which children consume books (similar to what Netflix is to the Sky TV or Hello Fresh is to an online food shop). It’s a small premium but when you think it gates the member access to handpicked books / unique activities / 50% off RRP to own any book and a fun child friendly experience it’s a worthwhile price to pay (so our members tell us).”
I think this is key, I was looking at it in comparison to the other offers there are out there but Adrian is right, this is a new and different way to experience books. Whether it’s something I could justify signing up for I don’t know but Adrian mentioned that a lot of grandparents sign up with their children and enjoy it as there little ‘thing’ and this is where I can see Bookabees having a really nice place in the book market. Adrian also let me know that there is a Bookabees App coming soon which will include rewards for reading, looking after books, etc, and I think this will really add value to the whole product. If you’d like to sign up you can do so at www.bookabees.com/