I am always on the hunt for new children’s books, either for my son or for my preschool classroom. To be honest, I’ve been collecting children’s books far longer than I’ve even been a mom or a teacher, because I knew someday I would be both of those things and having an extensive personal library was important to me. While the number of books that I currently own is a far cry from some of the impressive collections I’ve seen (feel free to post pictures of yours on our facebook page!) but we definitely have a great variety. I’ve been known to find an author I particularly love (like Todd Parr) and buy every single one of their titles if I find them for an affordable price. This being a huge factor in the books I purchase, because let’s face it… without a budget, my house would be filled to the brim with books! Used book sales and thrift shops are my heaven. But the drawbacks to finding books at sales like these is that it’s hit or miss with what you might find. What we all really want is books that are absolutely perfect for our children or students.
This is what makes Zoobean so fantastic. When you sign up, you enter a bunch of information about your child’s reading preferences, including their age, reading level, language, preferred genres, topics of interest, and character traits that they identify with. Some of the options you have to choose from for topics are ballerinas and princesses, daring to be different, feelings and friendship, historical events and figures, ninjas, pirates, and warriors, not so pink girls, sports, the arts, trains, planes, and transportation, zany, and more. They do a great job of covering all topics that a young child might be interested in, so even a picky child can be matched with something they’ll enjoy. During my student teaching days, I often saw children who would ONLY read if it was a topic they were absolutely in love with. If this is your child, you could select only that topics and get a book about that each month.
You also have the option of selecting the reading level for your child independently of his or her age, which is so important to me. Age alone is not an indication of what type of books you should necessarily seek for your child. For instance, my child is 1 1/2, but we have a ton of board books, so I chose read aloud books. You might have a 5 year old child who is interested in topics appropriate for a 5 year old, but is learning to read on their own already and not necessarily wanting to be read to so much anymore, so “new reader” books would be a great choice. You could also have an older child who likes topics and characters that appeal to their age level, but struggles with reading and could use a “growing reader” level book, or maybe even just prefers to be read to and would like the “read aloud” level books to help them just focus on enjoying literature. These specifics can be so hard to find on your own. Zoobean’s expert curators do all of this hard work for you!
Not only do you get a handpicked book just for your child, but you get two fantastic extras as well. After you or around the time you receive your book, you’ll be emailed a reading guide specific to your book and your child’s age/reading level. The reading guide has suggestions for discussion topics before, during, and after reading the book. For my child’s reading guide, the suggestions helped explore book features, make connections between self and story, describing illustrations, vocabulary building, adding physical activity and movements while reading to enhance non-verbal communication, and questions to ask after reading to enhance understanding and comprehension. There was also an activity suggestion to extend the story and build skills. In our book, the little owl character was looking for his mother and gave one characteristic of his mother (i.e. big eyes) so the rabbit helped him find what he thought was the owl’s mother, but turned out to be a different animal with big eyes that was not the owl’s mother, so they had to continue the search. The reading guide suggested picking out one character of a stuffed animal and finding another stuffed animal with the same characteristic. This activity helps children practice vocabulary by describing the stuffed animals and helps them learn to categorize. Super fun and a great educational experience!
The other extra is an email with app selections that coincide with the book. While screen time is not recommended for children under 2 by the AAP, I checked out the apps anyways. Zoobean suggested Zoola Animals, which teaches toddlers animal recognition, sounds, and matching skills. I love the bright, beautiful photographs is this one. They also suggested Peekaboo Barn, which has animal noises and is very cute! Older children would really love this feature, as again, it extends the stories, builds skills, and keeps your child interested in the topics they’re reading about.
Buy it! Zoobean is available in either hardcover or paperback editions, and can be purchased monthly or in 3, 6, or 12 month subscriptions. Paperback books are approximately $10 a month, and hardcovers are $15. After your book has been shipped, your reading guide will be emailed to you shortly and a few days later, your app suggestions will be emailed as well. Zoobean is currently working on an app companion, which I’ll update everyone on as soon as that feature goes live!
Win it! One lucky OLM reader will win a 3- month hardcover subscription to Zoobean! Enter via the rafflecopter below.