9 Book Subscription Services for Kids and Young Adults
Get books delivered to your doorstep to keep your kids occupied and off screens.
Updated July 7, 2022 7:00 a.m. PT
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Matt ElliottSenior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Book subscription services are a great way to access a range of books curated to your specific taste. And they aren't just for adults -- there are clubs for kids, too. The best children's book subscriptions will provide options for kids and young adults to explore the topics they are most invested in, and summer break is a great time to sign up for a book subscription service so your kids can catch up on their reading and develop necessary reading skills. And there are plenty of opportunities to engage young learners while they're away from school.
We encourage our kids to read as a way to occupy themselves for times when a friend isn't around or a screen isn't allowed. Of course, for all of the benefits reading provides a young mind -- stimulating the brain and imagination, building empathy, increasing vocabulary, yada yada. As someone who has worked from home since well before the pandemic, sometimes I just need the house to be quiet without the guilt associated with granting extended screen time.
Now, your first destination for "free" books should be your local library, where you can get them in physical and ebook form (check out Amazon Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and free library books via the Libby app for more of the latter). But if your library or local bookstore isn't cutting it, a book subscription box could help your kids to keep the pages turning. To that end, here are nine of the best children's book subscriptions available, from board books to young adult novels. Each has new book selections with every shipment and there are clubs for every age group. We update this list periodically.
Let's start with Amazon. If you're a Prime member, you can subscribe to Prime Book Box, which delivers curated hardcover books for kids up to age 12. It costs $20 per box, and you can sign up to receive a box every one, two or three months. There are boxes for ages 0-2 years, ages 3-5, ages 6-8 and ages 9-12. The up-to-2-years-old box includes four board books, and the rest contain two hardcover books. You put in your preferences and Amazon will send you a preview of its selections, which you can revise before the box ships. Or you can skip the edit step and be surprised when the box arrives.
$20-$25 a month or $263-$323 a year, plus $5 shipping a month
Bookroo has three age brackets for its book clubs: ages 0-3, ages 3-6 and ages 7-10. You'll get three board books for the youngest group, two picture books for the middle group and two chapter books for the oldest group. You can sign up to receive an alternating subscription of board books and picture books if you have toddlers of differing ages. Or if you sign up for two separate subscriptions, you can get a 15% discount on the second subscription. You can't preview the books before Bookroo sends them out, but it aims to find hidden gems you haven't heard of before. And should you receive a book you already own, you can get a $5 credit if you send Bookroo a picture of you giving the duplicate to a friend. And the books Bookroo sends come individually wrapped -- because what kid doesn't love tearing open a gift?
With Literati Kids, you're basically leasing books with an option to own. For $10 a month, you get five books per month but need to return them after the first week unless you want to buy them for what Amazon is currently charging for them. It's a fun way to expose your kids to a bunch of different books without needing to buy each and every one. Literati provides a prepaid return label to make sending back the books you don't want to keep free and fairly painless. Literati chooses a different theme each month for the books it sends and has five age brackets: Neo (0-3 years), Sprout (3-5 years), Nova (5-7 years), Sage (7-9 years) and Phoenix (9-12 years). And if moms and dads get jealous of their kid's Literati books arriving each month, there's also a Literati book club for adults.
This book club is run by Bethany Beach Books, an independent bookstore in Bethany Beach, Delaware. It has clubs for adults and three for kids: The Book Droplet (ages 3-7), Middle Grade (ages 8-12) and Young Adult (13 and up). You'll get one book per month, chosen by the staff at the bookstore. The two older clubs feature paperback books, and the Book Droplet club features hardcover picture books. The Middle Grade club costs $10 a month, the YA club costs $13 a month and the Book Droplet club costs $20 a month. You'll also be billed $4 a month for shipping for any of the clubs. You'll need to put your trust in the bookstore staff because you aren't able to offer any input about the types of books your kid likes to read, and you can't return a book you receive if you happen to already own it.
This book club feels a bit over the top, which makes it a great gift for parents or -- better yet -- grandparents of young adults. For $65 a month, Once Upon a Book Club sends a new young-adult title geared toward 14-year-olds and up -- along with three to five individually wrapped gifts, each of which corresponds to a page number in the books. Your YA reader will need to employ some self-discipline because the gifts will act as spoilers if opened before they reach the given page in the book. Also included is a 5x7-inch print of a quote from the book and discussion questions and read-along dates for live discussions online. You can also send a one-time gift box instead of buying a subscription, which makes a great holiday or birthday present for the young readers on your list.
$35 per month or $419 a year, plus $5 shipping a month
Equal Opportunity Book Box
This book subscription service is just getting started and does two admirable things: it features books with diverse characters -- each book it selects includes at least one character of color -- and donates one book for every book it sells. It sends three picture books to you per month for kids between the ages of one and six. And it donates books to Bernie's Book Bank, an organization that gets free books into the hands of underprivileged kids in Chicago. Each box from Equal Opportunity Book Box includes an info sheet about the month's books and an educational drawing activity. It costs more per month than most book clubs, but each box you receive means three books are being donated to kids in need.
Similar to Equal Opportunity Book Box, OurShelves features books with diverse and inclusive characters from under-represented identities. Instead of sending out books monthly, however, this club operates on a quarterly schedule. It offers three clubs for kids: Sunshine Box (0-2 years), Rainbow Box (2-5 years) and Treehouse Box (5-8 years). For each subscription, you can choose to receive three or five books each quarter. Pricing for the three-book boxes is $36 for the Sunshine Box and $51 for either the Rainbow Box or Treehouse Box. Shipping is included. Discounts are available if you purchase an annual subscription, and you can save 10% if you buy a second subscription.
There are many book subscriptions on Cratejoy for both kids and young adults. Book boxes for kids range in price from $10 to $31 a month and feature everything from board and picture books to science- and art-themed activity books. For YA, there's a mix of new and used book clubs that cost as little as $6 a month.
$13 a month or $100 a year, plus $5 shipping a month (Not currently taking orders)
BookCase.Club is one of the less expensive book subscriptions at only $13 a month. It has age brackets of ages 0-2, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8 and preteen, and you can select a box for boys or girls. You get three books per month that are a mixture of activity books and picture or chapter books. There's also a Teenage Dream club that features two YA novels each month.
Due to some shipping delays, this club isn't currently taking new orders, but it is worth keeping an eye out for when they start up again.
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