Oh, what a brilliant concept! A personalized box of children’s books in the mail once a month! And it comes in such a beautiful box, too. This is a wonderful idea for a shower gift, a way to start or complement a child’s library at home or at a grandparent’s home. It’s also a fabulous way to get kids excited about books and reading.
Mail A Tale is the brain child of a team of Toronto book lovers who want to connect kids from 0-8 with high quality books to treasure for years and years to come. (You will not find a single Lego Star Wars book in their selections.)
I met Anila Akram at the Toronto Word on the Street, and you could not hope to meet a more passionate and helpful guide to children’s books. As she explained it, she wanted to make it easy for parents (and grandparents and aunts and friends) to cut through hype and just get right to great books tailor-chosen for kids.
When I asked her for more detail about how the company was born, she replied,
In our family, we’ve always believed that part of creating a culture of reading is making sure that there is a strong presence of quality books in the home. Because we were so busy, it was easy to lose track of how much thought we were putting into curating a library for our little ones. We often found that we were reading the same book over and over again, and the kids were losing excitement. So, I started delivering these packages to my nephew once a month, in order to get him excited about reading on a consistent and regular basis. We wanted to make reading fun, and make him an active participant in story time. When many of my sister’s friends learned about the packages, they wanted to get involved! Other busy parents who don’t have the time to do extensive research about books think this is a great way to build a library, engage children, and make reading fun!
As a victim of chain bookstore hype about pretty books with little substance (I’m looking at you, Wildwood), I am thrilled that a service of substance is out there. It’s also lovely to see them champion Canadian children’s books. In addition to regularly including Canadian books in their selections, the Mail A Tale team works with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC), who hosts TD Book Week every April, to create a TD Book Week theme in April in honour of the event and to showcase their great work for Canadian kidlit.
When you sign up for a Mail A Tale subscription, you will be asked a few quick questions about your child and their reading habits. Each month Anila and the rest of the team browse through 1000s of books – both old and new – to find the ones your child will love, and a team of parents, educators and guest authors review all of the selections to make sure they’re just right. Each month has a theme around which books are chosen. In our recent box was a selection of books about exploration and trying new things, and it included the classic Amos and Boris by William Steig, as well as a recent book by Julia Donaldson, Jack and the Flumflum Tree. The latter is set on the island of Blowyernose. This has been the source of great hilarity in these parts, cementing Donaldon’s place as a favourite author.
As your child grows, their Book Box will grow along with them. And you will always have a chance to preview the selection and switch out books you may already have.
I can’t recommend this service highly enough. The attention to detail, the care with which the team match child to book and the excellent customer service make this company one I want to champion. Check them out.