Stay-home life has meant parents are craving new books, toys and activities to keep their kids occupied ― and kids are craving relief from the monotony. Give a child the gift of a subscription box this year, and the whole family will be grateful.
Whatever a kid or teen is passionate about ― from outdoor adventures to feminist icons to play dough ― there’s a box to inspire and entertain them. And there’s nothing quite like receiving a good old-fashioned package in the mail.
Subscription boxes are typically delivered to the child’s door quarterly or monthly (some can be ordered on a one-time basis), and they’re packed with carefully curated contents with fun and learning in mind.
Here are some high-quality subscription boxes that Canadian families can enjoy together:
What it is: A subscription box brimming with literature written and/or illustrated by Indigenous creators, sent every three months. Their box for kids has included books like Grandpa’s Girls by Interior Salish and Metis author Nicola Campbell, according to their website. Their box options for adults feature novels, along with trinkets and an informational card about an Indigenous culture.
What parents are saying: “My girls and I have been loving our quarterly subscription ... they could not wait to open it,” wrote one reviewer on Raven Reads. “Beautiful book selections that have inspired important and loving conversations about Indigenous people, the importance of knowing our history and [the] current reality.”
Shipping: Free nationwide, $5 for international orders.
Buy it at: Ravenreads.org
What it is: A box jam-packed with goodies that pre-teen girls will love. A new box is released quarterly by the Montreal-based company, which was founded by two mothers of tweens. The cost is $199 for four boxes. Typical contents include a seasonal item plus a hair accessory, clothing, jewellery, room decor, a novelty item and a craft or game ― think a scrunchie-making or mini clay kit. Mini boxes can also be purchased year-round.
What parents are saying: “It literally has everything a girl could ask for and items that keep them entertained. Definitely makes a great gift for Christmas and any occasion,” said one mom on the Boxed4Me website. And another said of her daughter’s response: “She was jumping up and down when I came home from picking up the box. It was during quarantine and the slime and stress ball she got kept her entertained.”
Shipping details: $9.99 per box, anywhere in Canada
Buy it at: Boxed4me.com
What it is: A monthly book subscription that sends kids two to three books featuring characters of colour, with a focus on showing readers a a full spectrum of genres. “The stories demonstrate that people of colour can star in stories that aren’t historical or cultural in focus. The typical story arc is more ‘Maria adopts a dog” or “Evan and friends battle monsters and dragons,‘” Jambo Books’ website explains.
What parents are saying: “The books are such wonderful quality, and the personalized letter was an important and heartfelt touch. I am so excited to begin reading with my sons and see this book box show up each month,” a CrateJoy reviewer wrote.
Shipping details: See details upon check-out.
Little Feminist Book Club
What it is: Looking to raise intersectional and anti-racist feminists? This California-based company’s book subscription service is a stand-out for its rigorous selection process and showcasing underserved communities. Little Feminist has four “book clubs” geared towards different age groups and sends families discussion prompts to ask after reading time is over.
What parents are saying: “After receiving this box I really took a hard look at my son’s book collection and any book with a female character was usually a princess or ballerina,” one reviewer stated on Little Feminist’s website. “I love seeing female characters each month and discovering new books and authors with my little one.”
Shipping: See details upon check-out.
Buy it at: Littlefeminist.com
Wild Life Outdoors Adventures
What it is: A made-in-Canada series of 12 monthly boxes to cultivate kids’ love of nature and the great outdoors. The contents of each box (starting at $36 monthly) build upon those of the one before, as do the activities, making kids well-equipped and knowledgeable outdoors adventurers over time. They’ll learn everything from how to pack a bag well for a hiking trip, to how to log their observations of nature to how to identify the stars. Suitable for ages 8-12.
What parents are saying: “The kids call me every month to tell me about their adventures, and it’s a great feeling to give a gift that encourages time outdoors,” wrote one grandmother from Calgary, who gifted the boxes to her grandkids.
Shipping details: $8 Canada-wide
Buy it at: Jointhewildlife.ca
Just Like Me
What it is: A U.S.-based monthly book subscription prioritizing Black stories, which sends two to three books and educational tools to families raising kids ages 12 and under. The monthly cost converts to about $37 (CAN).
Shipping: See details upon check-out, for international shipping.
Buy it at: Justlikemebox.com
What it is: This woman-owned Canadian business was created by an early years educator. Dough Parlour sends out quarterly boxes, for $49 each, containing biodegradable play dough with wonderful scents (seasonal favourites include gingerbread, cranberry, and peppermint), and soothing colours, made with 100% non-toxic ingredients. Kids will also receive tools like shape cutters and a rolling board, to enhance their sensory-play experience.
What parents are saying: “The packaging is really cute, the colours are beautiful, and the texture of the dough is really nice and it doesn’t dry out hands like typical play dough,” one reviewer wrote, on Dough Parlour’s Facebook page.
Shipping details: Free shipping cross Canada
Buy it at: Doughparlour.com
What it is: A nine-issue annual magazine subscription for preteens that explores different cultures around the world. The cost works out at $12.33 per issue, for 12 issues.
What parents are saying: “Its light, but educational articles are accompanied by tons of photos, contests, plays, stories and topic-related activities,” one reviewer said on MagsConnect.
Shipping: Free nationwide
Buy it at: MagsConnect.ca
What it is: Released quarterly by Canadian-based entrepreneurs, Each ByUs Box is packed with fun and interesting age-appropriate toys, books and learning activities, to spark conversations and interactive play that promotes inclusion. The $89 boxes help parents raise anti-racist and inclusive kids, and they are curated by members of the equity-seeking group they spotlight. Available for ages 0-2, 3-5 and 6-8.
What parents are saying: “It’s an amazing resource! Especially because we can’t rely on the school systems to talk to our kids about the most important topics,” wrote the mother of a 5-year-old. “The information that is sent is so thoughtful and well-done,” commented a mother of two.
Shipping: $15 Canada-wide
Buy it at: Byusbox.com
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