Reading to Kids Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune
Let me ask you this. Does a trip to the book store end up lightening your pocket book a little more than you expected it to?
And do you have a hard time picking the best books to read with your kids or keeping up with age-appropriate titles?
The Dilemma Surrounding Children’s Books – To Buy, Borrow or Forgo?
The fact is, you walk into a bookstore with the best of intentions ( namely, to grab a cuppa joe and browse books for free, mostly!) But, somehow, somewhere between the caffeine, the music, the lights and the aisles of glossy, printed material, you decide you just have to have some of those shiny, new books adorning your book shelf at home. Today.
And if you are a parent of young kids, many of those shiny books are likely to have snuck up into your shopping cart from the children’s section.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for buying books for kids. Children’s books make the best gifts for any occasion. Yet, these books aren’t cheap. And you don’t always know which books your child will enjoy. If you end up buying a handful of children’s books everytime you visit the bookstore, the cost adds up. Although I’m guilty of giving in to temptation on several occasions when it comes to buying new books for my daughter, I must admit that there have been times when I’ve refrained, thanks to the price tag. I say to myself that I’ll find a copy at our library or a used one online. And sometimes I do.
But, I’ve often wondered if it wouldn’t be nice to have some kind of a circulation service or online library where we could borrow books instead of buying them and where the cost of books wouldn’t be a factor in enjoying the most beautiful children’s books with our little readers as and when we wanted to.
Grow Up With Books may have the answer
Sanitized, good as new books. Delivered to your door step every month. No late fees.
Reading to kids made easier
Rent. Read. Return. Repeat!
Grow Up With Books is a company that provides an ‘online children’s book rental experience.’ Not only can parents afford to bring home as many children’s books and picture books as they want, but they can also enjoy several added benefits of the GUWB membership for a nominal cost..like finding the best, age-appropriate books for kids or learning ways to enrich their reading experience with the Read TWO concept. To tell you more about the idea, the company and the experience, I asked Lara Ivey a few questions. Lara is a Reading Consultant with GUWB and was kind enough to answer my questions, along with Phil Daukys, the brain behind Grow Up With Books.
If you’re looking for a way to surround your kids with books all the time, without having to resist temptation in bookstore aisles or writing off all your savings, and if you’d like to learn about ways to engage your children with reading-related activities and ideas, you’ve got to read what Lara has to say.
Reading Consultant at GUWB
When I visit your site, the first words I see are ” Online Children’s Book Rental Experience” But, I’ve noticed you say it’s more than that. How would you describe GUWB?
At first glance, you’d think we were a company that rents books Netflix style. Which we are–that is true. However, we like to call it an “experience.” We offer quality literature, connection ideas, the Read TWO Experience, a reading consulting team to help with reading related questions, and even a sanitizing process so that you know your books are clean.
*The books that are offered have been specifically chosen so that GUWB can act as sort of a “filter” for parents having a hard time choosing books.
*One of my favorite things we do that adds to the “experience” is our Connection Cards. Inside most of our books (as long as there is a place to put it) you will find a sticker that gives additional ideas for you and your child to connect with a book. The connection ideas include movement, art, music, math, science, social studies, technology, cooking, writing, and general ones that don’t necessarily fit into a category. For me, the “connections” bring the books to life and is an added benefit to a GUWB membership.
*Our Reading Consulting Team (RCT) is available to offer guidance with reading related questions. We won’t diagnose reading problems, but we can suggest books, reading strategies, and activities to make reading an enjoyable experience. We are available close to 24/7, so that is a definite bonus to GUWB members.
*The Read TWO Experience…
At GUWB, we believe strongly in the importance of reading being a family experience. That’s where the “Read TWO Experience” comes into play and GUWB comes to the rescue. Many times, parents will ask, “I don’t know what to read with my child.” Or they may say, “I don’t know what my child should be reading on her own and what I should read aloud to her!” When we review each book, we will mark the general age group that the book is appropriate for as well as HOW to read it. Would this book be read To, With, or on their Own (T, W, O= Read TWO). One book might be for 2 different age groups, but would be used differently within each group. A 3-4 year old would have it read TO them, but a 5-8 year old you might read it WITH or let them read it on their OWN. The Read TWO Experience really helps to understand how to best use each book.
What age groups do you target and how do you select the books?
Ages birth-12. Book selection is key! We pride ourselves on choosing high-quality books and offering connections with them. When selecting picture books, some things we look for are rich vocabulary, believable characters that may be multi-dimensional, “voice,” engaging illustrations, child-friendly, humor, age-appropriate, and possible future “classic.” With novels, we look for some of the same things…rich vocabulary and phrases, complex storyline, “back story” to the main one, believable characters, “voice,” humor, age-appropriate, etc. With our concept books we’re looking for them to be clear, developmentally appropriate, interactive, and have engaging text and pictures. Not each and every book will have all of those, but that’s our guide.
Do you offer recommendations or reviews to help parents/kids in the book selection process?
Reviews are given for each book we offer. Our RCT personally reads each and every title, taking notes along the way and creating connection ideas. We also include a “Just a Heads Up” section on books that may be of concern to parents. Our categories for that are…General, Mild Violence, Mature Language, Mature Content, and Springboard Topics. The goal of offering the “Just a Heads Up” section is to make parents aware of what their children are reading. Too often we let our kids read books that we know nothing about. The “Just a Heads Up” section is located at the end of any book review that we felt deserved it. Knowing that a book includes “Mature Content” would let you know that it needs a mature reader. It also may guide a parent to read the book with their child rather than have the child read on his/her own.
How much does it cost to rent books on GUWB?
Plans range from $13 per month for Very Light Readers to $ 40 per month for Heavy Readers depending on how many books you wish to receive and read each month. The number varies from 3 to 15. You can change your plan at any time…choose a plan with more or less books depending on your need. You can always email us with questions if one arises.
Who came up with this idea and how did it all start?
(Answered by Phil Daukys) After listening to my son tell me that “Mommy read that book last night… Daddy, you read that book last week,” my wife and I decided that we needed an alternative and wanted to find a way to help others in the same boat. Understanding that the library was a great place to get books, but it still did not alleviate that problem of what books we should be reading. In addition, all people are not close to a library… Grow Up With Books was created.
How does this compare to visiting the library with your child? You have advantages like participating in story time, being able to select books physically, and enjoying an atmosphere of books and reading. Can GUWB replace that?
(Answered by Phil Dauksys) We love libraries and fortunately we’re close to them, but not all parents are. We have no intention of competing with libraries. What we offer, that most libraries do not, is recommended rich literature by age group, taking the guessing game out of the equation for parents in trying to pick the ‘right’ books for their children. We have sanitized books, connection cards in each book that allows both the parents and children to take a book to the next level, making it come alive. GUWB subscribers have the ability to ask our Reading Consulting Team any question regarding their children’s reading development.
Are you able to source the latest or relatively new titles?
That’s one of my jobs–keeping up with what is coming and what is newly out there. Some of our latest ones are the Newbery and Caldecott winners. However, we are always looking for new ideas and welcome suggestions. Being on Twitter and Facebook connects me with authors, publishers, and educators who also are quite knowledgeable in the book field.
Is this service available in all the states currently?
YES! We’ve even sent books to Hawaii.
What is your role with GUWB as a reading consultant?
I’m afraid to tell you because everyone will want my job! I have the privledge and pleasure of choosing books, reading them, reviewing, writing connection pieces, blogging, twittering, Facebook, etc. I get to connect with people and bring books along with me! It is my dream job and I love spreading the joy of books!
Children’s books are going digital in a huge way these days as that seems to be an attractive way to get kids to read….you have iPhone apps, digital story readers etc…what do you think of this trend? Do you feel it’s all right as long as kids are reading somehow…or do you think that it’s important for kids to experience reading actual books?
My first thought is if a child is reading, we have accomplished the first and very important goal(digital or not). If we are building better readers by reading with, to, or having children reading on their own, we have accomplished a bigger goal. There is no question that the digital movement is upon us, providing convenience. However, no matter what technology comes around, NOTHING will replace the connection made when you are holding your child in your lap and turning actual pages of a loved book. Prominent author Emile Buchwald puts it quite nicely, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” We couldn’t agree more.
How long has GUWB been around and how would you say the response has been? Are parents enthusiastic about your service?
(Answered by Phil Daukys)The concept has been in place for 10 months, the actually website has been operational since 10/09. The overall response has been enthusiastic. We have people that love the idea and wish they would have come up with it themselves. When you combine reading, children, and a mechanism to provide a service that is designed to save parents time and money, you’ve succeeded.
I find the Read TWO experience interesting – I guess I do a little bit of all three when I read to/with my daughter. Is there any incident or memorable ‘reading’ moment you’d like to share related to reading with your kids or in your experience as a teacher?
One of the most important things that I NEVER was willing to forgo during the day was the time I read aloud to my class. Some of my favorites were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, All About Sam, Wayside School is Falling Down, Frindle, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Then there are the lesser-known titles like People in Pineapple Place, The Real Thief, and The Fairy Rebel. Just recently I had a former student (now a student-teacher) tell me that People in Pineapple Place was the best book she ever heard read aloud. Now I have to find a copy of it and get it for her so that she can carry on the tradition. You never know what impact your “reading choices” will have on others!
How does this work logistically? ( According to your site, kids can keep the books for as long as they want, there are no late fees, the books are sanitized every time, how does all this work?)
Phil Daukys: An absolutely seamless process. Parents sign up, add books to their queue (hopefully with the help of their children), and we automatically ship books to you, free. When you are done reading the books, you simply place them in the return envelope mailed with original shipment, and place them in your mail. If, by chance, your child falls in love with the book, you can opt to buy the book straight from us! There are no late fees, no shipping fees, and no concerns with germs with our sanitization process. Through the sanitization process upon return of books we disinfect each book with an environmentally safe, EPA approved product that kills 99.9% of the bacteria, including H1N1.
If someone reading this is interested in renting children’s books or checking your service out – what action do they have to take and how long on an average would the whole process take?
Phil Daukys:Interested parents can simply log on to the site, chose a plan, add books to their queue and then wait for their Grow Up With Books shipment. Online time is minimal, but we encourage subscribers to browse our books, ask questions of our Reading Consulting Team, and even check out our prices. We also sell books and are often, if not always, cheaper than Amazon and other online retailers. Shipping in general takes about 3-5 days to receive your books. We have created an expedited process when books are returned allowing us to have knowledge that your shipment is on its way back. Then we immediately ship out your next round of books, taking precious days out of the process.
The primary goal of Grow Up With Books is to encourage reading and the love of books among children and to make books accessible to them wherever they are. The online book rental service is just a part of their bigger plan to promote reading and reading-related activities among children, including underprivileged kids. It is with this goal in sight that Grow Up With Books has partnered with various charities and organizations to donate books and promote early literacy both within and outside the United States. To learn more about GUWB’s philanthropic endeavours or if you’re interested in checking out the online children’s book rental experience for yourself, visit http://growupwithbooks.com/. And let me know what you thought!