My 3-year-old’s favorite pastime is reading. Doesn’t matter if it’s Llama Llama or Dr. Seuss or Pete the Cat or Fancy Nancy. She devours books. As a parent (and a writer), I couldn’t be happier.
That said, trying to satisfy an insatiable thirst for new children’s books can be a challenge. Sure, her book collection is pretty stacked but she knows most of the titles inside and out. And while we frequent the public library regularly, it’s not always easy to find fresh books without getting stuck re-shelving half the kids’ section for an hour. Which is why we were intrigued when we turned up Literati, a Netflix-like subscription service that sends you five books every 30 days for $10 a month.
The books are actual physical books, not e-books downloaded to a tablet, and you have seven days to decide whether to buy them. Don’t like the titles? Send them back in the enclosed pre-paid envelope. Love everything and you can own them for less than you’d pay online, as they’ll either match or beat out Amazon’s price. If you keep all five, you also get an additional 5 percent off. We picked up the Jane Goodall children’s book, Me … Jane, for less than $10, or about $2 less than Amazon, and found the prices overall to be competitive.
But Literati saves me more than money; it saves me time. Their experts curate the collection and select five illustrated books each month. The books arrive in the mail and sometimes include an activity book. Even better, instead of selecting random titles or those related to a child’s specific interests, Literati features a new theme each month ⏤ for example, “Science and Innovation” or “For The Love of Art.” It helps introduce new ideas and explore varying interests. There are four different age groups to choose from when you enroll, and they extend from newborn up to 9 years old.
Not only that, but the entire package is part of the fun. Our first shipment included a message written in invisible ink and a small black light. My daughter enjoyed hearing her coded message read aloud as we held the lamp over top. There were also bookmarks for kids and a one-sheet synopsis of each book in the box for parents.
What I like about Literati so far is that it’s sort of a hybrid library-meets-book store system. Because we can keep the books for seven days, we’re not stuck buying books our daughter doesn’t like. Instead, assuming they’re not covered in grape juice stains by the end of the week, we simply drop them into a mailbox rather than into the library book return bin. The only difference is that we’re out $10, whereas we wouldn’t have paid a thing at the library. And that’s the one drawback honestly. Not only are you paying for something you can get for free (assuming you have a library in town) but you are also somewhat compelled to then buy books every month. That said, you don’t have to. And if you think of the monthly fee as a convenience charge for both their curation services and not having to drive to the library, it’s worth it. At least it is for us. Not to mention, I can cancel at any time. That made my decision as easy as, well, getting a library card.