Middle grade book subscriptions are an excellent way to help children learn to love reading. These services make literacy an event to look forward to, a fun experience that reinforces literacy how reading can be exciting. As a librarian and writer of children’s literature, I know especially how hard it can be for parents and adults to find books that fit in the elusive category of “middle grade.” Having experts pick age-appropriate books for readers is one advantage of signing up for a book subscription for middle grade. Let kid lit professionals take the guessing game out of book selection.
We here at Book Riot are definitely fans of book box subscriptions—here are 50 of our favorites. (If you’re looking for the best YA book boxes, we have that, too.) In this article, find the five Book Riot–approved best book subscriptions for middle graders. Each of these unique subscriptions have different strengths, from personalized suggestions to fun themes and convenient options. With the push for more diverse books in children’s literature, we made sure to evaluate how each box company values diversity (or not). Here you’ll find all the details you need on five popular middle grade book subscriptions.
Ages: Bookroo offers boxes for children ages 0–10. Their middle grade option (called the “Chapter Book Club”) is aimed towards readers aged 7–10.
Frequency and Price: Bookroo Chapter Book Club Boxes ship every month, though you have the option to switch to every other month when you choose your plan. Bookroo customers can purchase the Chapter Book Club in bulk to save money in sets of 12 boxes prepaid ($21.95 per box); 6 boxes prepaid ($22.95 per box); or 3 boxes prepaid ($23.95 per box). Customers can also choose to buy their box month-to-month for $24.95 per box). Bookroo reports that the books you get are are up to 54% cheaper than buying at retail price.
Shipping: Chapter Book Club boxes ship for $4.99 in the United States and $16 to Canadian customers.
What’s Inside: Each Chapter Book Club contains 2 chapter books. Bookroo focuses on choosing books that are under the radar and less well known, as well as classics. Kids get one “hidden gem” and one classic pick in their box.
How Books Are Selected: Bookroo’s rigorous selection process is notable. According to Bookroo, each book is rated on a seven point scale by panel of 12 families who attend Stanford University, plus their 22 combined kids. Bookroo also consults with librarians. Each book is accompanied by a note that explains why the Bookroo team loved it.
You can peek inside recent Chapter Book Boxes on Bookroo. Watch one mom’s review of a Chapter Book Box on YouTube:
Diversity: From the range of books in Bookroo boxes listed on their site, it seems like diversity is definitely a priority, with several diverse authors and illustrators featured, as well as many female authors.
Terms and Conditions: For more information about Bookroo boxes, check out their FAQ.
Ages: OwlCrate Jr is designed for children aged 8–12 who are reading at the middle grade level.
Frequency and Price: Readers can purchase a month-to-month subscription for $27.99, a 3 month prepay for $80.97, or a 6 month prepay for $155.94.
Shipping: Shipping per box is calculated at $7.99 for U.S. customers, $9.99 (plus tax) for Canadian subscribers, and $19.99 for worldwide readers.
What’s Inside: One thing that’s nice about OwlCrate Jr is each month has a theme, like Robots, Legends of the Deep, Time Travel, and Rebels and Rule Breakers . Readers get one new middle grade novel (which is sometimes signed), some “goodies” chosen by the book’s author, and 3–5 items related to the month’s theme and reinforce OwlCrate Jr’s focus on “curiosity, creativity, and imagination.”
For example, here’s the September 2019 OwlCrate Jr box:
Something that sets OwlCrate Jr apart from other box services is their extensive list of previous boxes. Instead of guessing what’s in each month or trying to sift through user reviews and Instagram posts, parents can see the creative and fun boxes from earlier months.
How Books Are Selected: It’s unclear how books are chosen for the OwlCrate Jr box, but one imagines it is close to the selection process for the YA-themed OwlCrate explained in the “How It Works” part of their site. OwlCrate and OwlCrate Jr both focus on new and forthcoming books and read manuscript well ahead of publication to pick books that bound to be hits.
Diversity: OwlCrate Jr features some books by diverse authors and illustrators, like The Twelve by Cindy Lin and Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, but there is still room for improvement. Hopefully they will be incorporating more diverse books into their future boxes.
Terms and Conditions: For more information on OwlCrate Jr, check out their FAQ.
Ages: Prime Book Box options include Baby–2, 3–5, younger middle grade (6–8) and older middle grade (9–12).
Frequency and Price: All Prime Book Boxes are $19.99, with the first box priced at $16.99. Amazon claims that Book Box subscribers receive their books at 35% off the list price. You can choose to have a box come every 1, 2, or 3 months. Parents can choose to skip a month and can cancel at any time.
Shipping: Your first Prime Book Box is sent with 2-day shipping. In future orders, parents get an email with what has been chosen for next month. They have five days to accept the selections or choose alternate books. The box is then delivered 5–10 days later. All Prime Book Boxes have free shipping. Amazon prioritizes convenience, and if you already have an Amazon account, the Prime Book Box is easy to set up and manage.
What’s Inside: Kids get two hardcover books inside Amazon’s Prime Book Box for younger readers (ages 6–8) and older middle grade ages (ages 9–12). While that’s less than other book boxes that offer extra goodies, Prime Book Box is pretty affordable.
How Books are Selected: When parents sign up, Amazon presents them with two choices curated by Amazon editors that fit with the child’s age group. Parents have the option to accept the choices or swap in other books. It seems Prime Book Box has already started to gain a following, as one satisfied parent writes on Business Insider.
Diversity: Happy parents and bookish kids on Instagram have showed off their middle grade Prime Book Box, featuring diverse books like Love Like Sky by Lamar Giles, Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood, and Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. Amazon seems to be making an effort to include diverse voices.
Ages: Reading Bug Box offers book box subscriptions for several ages, but middle grade children will want the Reader box designed for 8–13 year olds.
Frequency and Price: Parents can choose to pay month-to-month for $29.99 or select a 6-month prepay ($28.50 per month) or 12-month prepay ($27.00). Boxes ship each month, and customers can skip a month.
Shipping: Shipping prices seem to be customized to each address. When I filled out a sample order, my shipping was quoted at $3.50/box to send from California to Pennsylvania.
What’s Inside: Reading Bug Boxes are totally unique, as the expert bookseller selects books specifically tailored to your young reader. You won’t find impersonal picks, but rather a customized box. Also included are a personalized note and a few gifts and extras that go with a theme. Note that parents can choose to have one box that combines several young readers.
How Books Are Selected: If you’re looking for a middle grade book box curated by kid lit experts, look no further. Reading Bug Box is actually a service offered by The Reading Bug, a family-owned, indie children’s bookstore founded in 2008 in San Carlos, California.
Diversity: Since each box is unique, it’s not easy to find out how diverse the selections are. However, The Reading Bug’s website, and its listing of upcoming author and illustrator visits, reflects a dedication to promoting diversity. Customers can definitely request diverse picks when filling out their intro survey and through contact with The Reading Bug booksellers.
Terms and Conditions: Find out more details about Reading Bug Box on their FAQ section.
Ages: SpearCraft’s flagship product are YA boxes. In 2019, they began to regularly create Middle Grade Boxes for ages 8–13.
Frequency and Price: Customers can purchase boxes a la carte or subscribe to the service for monthly or quarterly boxes. Subscription boxes for the Middle Grade Box can be purchased for 3-month prepay ($76.50), 6-month prepay ($148.50), 12-month prepay ($290.00), or month-to-month for $27.00, plus shipping. Monthly subscribers have the option to skip a month. Because SpearCraft Box is such a popular subscription box, sometime subscriptions for the month sell out. You can buy previous boxes from the site while supplies last. Judging by past boxes, the contents retail for approximately double what the subscription costs.
Shipping: Varies by location.
What’s Inside: Each SpearCraft Middle Grade Book Box contains at least one book, with a focus on new releases, often accompanied by a note from the author, as well as several goodies that go along with the box’s theme. These items are often made in house. Customers do have the option to choose a books only edition.
How Books Are Selected: SpearCraft focuses on new releases from major publishers and authors. In this July 2019 Middle Grade Book Box from SpearCraft, items are themed around monsters.
Often books are themed to something seasonal, like spooky stories for October. For instance, in the October 2019 box, middle grade readers could expect scary books to tie in with Halloween, like City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab.
Diversity: The Middle Grade SpearCraft Box is relatively new, but one hopes SpearCraft will build on their diverse picks in the YA box, which has featured books by authors such as Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta, The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala, and Enchantée by Gita Trelease.
Terms and Conditions: For the full rundown on SpearCraft Box, be sure to review their extensive FAQ.
While Book Riot doesn’t offer middle grade book subscriptions, adults looking for a personalized reading experience should definitely check out Tailored Book Recommendations (TBR). At TBR, our “Bibliologists” (like me!) help connect you to books you’ll love based on your preferences. If you’re looking to delve deeper into a new genre, bust through a reading slump, or just find more five-star reads, get started with TBR today.