Children’s books: Parrot Street Book Club

You guys! I’ve never written any sponsored posts or reviewed anything gifted: partly because this blog really is a place of catharsis; exploring something I love doing.

And of course, given how singular my tastes have become, a company would need to produce either entirely white homewares or entirely black clothing for me to endorse them enthusiastically.

My name is tMatM and I endorse this white interior (image: Found Associates via Houzz)

But. BUT! The people at Parrot Street Book Club, a UK based children’s monthly subscription book club, sent me – well actually Jacob (8) and Elsa (6) – some samples and I love it all so much I wanted to tell you about it. Especially because I’ve written about our favourite books before and it turns out that you are as fed up as I am of wading through schlock to find decent children’s books.

Image: Parrot Street Book Club

Here’s the thing about raising readers. Do you remember the slow dawning realization, the true rite of passage into adulthood; that even though you JUST dusted your house last week it is, regardless, dusty again? Well similarly, I had an epiphany around raising children who love reading. Helping children to really love books isn’t, as it turns out – much like dusting – a one-time effort.

I had a toddler that loved books. He would sit happily for hours while we enjoyed piles of excellent picture books.

Then he learnt to read, and ploughed through some early chapter books ahead of the expected curve. I started to relax. He was a reader! We’d done it! He devoured literature. And yet, slowly and quietly his interest waivered a little, and I realised that I would need to pull out the stops in keeping books relevant, engaging, exciting.

So I spend significant time reading children’s book reviews; blogs (like this post, and this post), or discussing with our extremely helpful school librarian.

Parrot Street, though: this is where they really had me intrigued. They research and work with publishers to identify reading-level-appropriate new titles that aren’t already ubiquitous.

I like the idea that, even if I have had a busy month – say, for example, I was 20-something weeks pregnant and then my husband had ankle surgery and was on crutches and I had four small children all desperately keen to make Halloween costumes and one small child with a raging fever – HYPOTHETICALLY of course – then a book club subscription like this, a little something arriving in the post, might just help me feel a little less overwhelmed by the seemingly endless list of enriching activities I would like to provide for my children.

No, that wasn’t hypothetical at all.

Anyway, the sample packs Parrot Street sent to us were extremely well-received. Happily the selections aren’t intended for either boys OR girls but rather just people, children. Even more happily I think this means you are fairly guaranteed to avoid titles like the Rainbow Fairy series.

Proof of a decent book – even a scenic Pacific Northwest ferry trip is no distraction.

Both of my target audience members absolutely loved the titles they were sent even though – perhaps even because – they weren’t books they would have necessarily chosen themselves. The stories were engaging; fresh, fun.

As an aside, I was also thrilled that the parcels arrived without piles of plastic wrapping or toys. I have moaned to my husband for years – he will wearily attest – that even the most thoughtful of children’s magazines are attached to plastic toys that inevitably break/ don’t work/ distract from the actual content. In contrast, the Parrot Street activities were simple activity cards (recipes, crafts, and thoughtful but very much non-schooly book club topics for discussion).

Pleasingly free from garish plastic

I particularly appreciated that the suggested discussions provided me with a way to open a conversation about books that wasn’t a generic “are you enjoying the book?”, despite not having had time to also read them in full myself (see above for ailing husband, pregnancy etc).

They are even building the full book club effect, with feedback cards that children can write or draw on and then mail in, or take a photo and share via email or social media. (On Instagram here)

I mean I think you can tell I’m a fan. But in case you weren’t sure. I’m A FAN! I do feel a little bit aggrieved that I don’t live around the corner from the women that set this up as I feel quite confident they’d probably be my best friends but in all other regards I am wholeheartedly on board. Have a peek at their website to find out more. Casually drop the idea in to conversation with grandparents before (whisper it) the discussions about Christmas gift ideas start coming thick and fast. And very much in line with all my smug and lazy goals, feel quietly confident that you are helping your children discover some fun new literature.

More soon! Likely when we are back to a normal level of household chaos rather than current crisis levels.

tMatM x

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