If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that reading is fundamentally beneficial to young minds. Whether they’re reading themselves, listening to someone read to them, or reading along at bedtime, kids need books.
But when it’s 7 PM and you’re staring at a bookshelf that’s filled with the exact same books you’ve read a million times over, it can be a bit tedious. But buying more books gets expensive and since there are approximately 20 bajillion titles on the shelves, how do you know which ones are good, which are tolerable, and which will make you want to go Fahrenheit 451 after the first read?
That’s why Amazon is introducing the Prime Book Box for Kids. This subscription service sends 3-4 board books or 2 hardcover books every 1, 2, or 3 months (depending on the frequency and age-range you choose). They’re chosen from titles that are highly rated by Amazon customers or are favorites of Amazon Editors. Roll the tape!
(Hey, Amazon, why does the cute kid in the sweater and tie not seem to have any parents? Asking for a friend.)
Who’s It For?
The age ranges are Baby-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. For babies and the littlest readers, you’ll get up to 4 board books in your box. Older kids will get 2 hardcover books (picture books for the younger spectrum, middle reader books for the older kids).
How Much Does it Cost?
The subscription rate is $22.99 per box, charged at the monthly interval you choose. It’s a 35% discount on the cover price. If Amazon’s advertised price happens to be lower when your books are shipped, they’ll give you back the difference (so no paying extra for things you could have picked up cheaper yourself).
But I Already Have That One
Amazon will keep an eye on your recent purchase history to avoid books that you’ve already purchased through them. They’ll also give you a heads up before your books ship so that you can review what will be in the box.
If you don’t like the selections that month, Amazon provides a list of 4 alternate titles that you can switch out. If you don’t like any of the titles that month, you can skip it altogether, just like any Prime subscription.
What About Diverse Voices?
That’s a big question mark. The cynic in me looks to the “loved by Amazon readers” criteria and worries that the author selection won’t be representative. I’m hoping that the Amazon editors will step in and make a concerted effort to promote female authors, authors of color, and alternate viewpoints (I’m not saying I need Marlon Bundo to be a part of every subscription, but…).
*Update: Sadly, my worries were justified. When I got my invitation email today, both of the middle grade book authors were guys. Now, of the four alternates, there were three women (one with a male co-author). But there wasn’t a single author of color among them.
I love the concept of the subscription service, but Amazon is going to have to try harder if it wants to keep up with an ever-diversifying publishing landscape.
Where Can I Sign Up?
Right now the Prime Book Box for Kids is available via subscription for Prime members only. You can toss your name in the ring on the Amazon page. You’re not obligated to join when you do get an invite, so if you’re even remotely interested, I’d head over and toss your name in the ring. The subscription boxes will start shipping in a few weeks.
[Ed.’s Note: The update under the What About Diverse Voices? section was added on May 2, 2018.]