Little Bird Readers

A wee while ago we were given the opportunity to review a new subscription on the block and it was a book subscription. I jumped at the chance because I thought it was such a great idea and I’m so glad we did. We were signed up to a three-month subscription and could not wait to get started, when our first book arrived it was so beautifully presented and Rocky ripped into it quicker than I could say GO! He was always so excited to open the parcel addressed just to him. Not only do you get the most amazing books full of great language but they are also the most gorgeous books as well, like there is no way I could go to the book store and find books like these I ALWAYS end up with more construction books!

I have asked owner of Little Bird Readers and mother to Ivy Dr Amy Scott some questions to help show you how amazing not only she is but what goes on behind the books, these aren’t just plucked from the shelves because they are pretty, they are handpicked by Amy herself with so much thought, care and knowledge to ensure our babes get the most out of reading.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

We are a family of three – myself, my husband, Paddy, and our 14-month-old daughter, Ivy. We also have a few dysfunctional animals, including a very old and grumpy cat and a ball-obsessed dog. We live in Christchurch, in an old house that we have been lovingly renovating for too many years now! By day I work as a Senior Research Assistant at the University of Canterbury (along with 24/7 mama-duties to Ivy!) and by night I run Little Bird Readers. This means not a lot of down-time, but I really love the work that I do, so it’s totally worth it! In our spare time we love to go to the weekly farmer’s market, potter in the garden, cook and eat delicious food, and spend time with our friends and family. We have dreams of building an ultra-modern dream home, and travelling the world with Ivy, but for now, we are very content with our lovely, relatively simple little life.

 What is LBR and how does a book subscriptions work?

LBR is a combination of my knowledge and expertise in child language and literacy development, and very cool kid’s books, delivered to you every month. Think of it as books for your children and learning for you. How it works is quite simple - every month, a unique and exciting book arrives in your mailbox, which I’ve hand-picked to be perfect for the age and developmental stage of your child. Along with the book, you also get some ‘literacy development tips’, which are a few simple things you can do with your child while reading with them, to help support their language and reading development. Subscribers also get access to an exclusive section on the website, which has more ideas, activities and articles, to help you get the most out of your book subscription. I currently have subscriptions for Babies (0-18 months), Toddlers (18 months – 3 years) and Pre-schoolers (3-5 years). I’ve also just launched a family subscription, which is a more affordable subscription if you have more than one child in your family.

LBR is so much more than just books – your subscription also gets you access to my years of experience and expertise in how to help your child grow into a great reader simply by sharing books with them.

 Why did you start LBR?

I used to work as a Speech-Language Therapist, but became frustrated with only being able to help people one at a time, when I knew that to make a real difference, larger-scale change was necessary. After the earthquake, I decided to go back to uni and do my PhD, to research how I could help children get the best start in life by changing the way their parents read with them. I had Ivy just before I finished my study, so spent a few months on the couch with a baby on my boob, thinking about what was next for me - I knew that I wanted to put my knowledge and expertise to a practical use and combine that with something I really enjoyed. I love the work I do as a researcher, but what we find out often takes a while to trickle down into the ‘real world’ and have an immediate impact. I also found that there are some really weird and frankly quite terrible kid’s books out there, which frustrated me as I tried to find good quality books to read with Ivy. So, I decided to combine my love of kid’s books, with my knowledge of child development, and bring an accessible product to the market, so all parents and children can experience the benefits that come with great early reading experiences. Children who are interested and excited about reading, and have good foundational skills, are more likely to be successful when they get to school and also later on in life. In many ways, our paths are paved quite early in this respect, so giving your children the best start to life by helping them become good readers, will have a huge impact on their life course in the later years.

 Why is reading with our children so important?

So many reasons! Children create their blueprint for reading from a very young age – all the books you read with your baby and young children are teaching them about letters and sounds, words, and the world around them. In fact, research has shown that reading to children actually changes the structure of their brains! These early reading experiences are absolutely crucial to their success at reading later on in life. Sadly, some children grow up in homes where reading is not valued and prioritised, and these are more likely to be the kids who struggle when they get to school. Kids who start school lacking in this foundation knowledge often never catch up to their peers. Kids don’t need to be able to actually read by the time they start school, but having a good understanding of language, how letters and sounds work, and what books are all about, will set them up for success and make the process of learning to read so much easier.

Check out this blog for more information on why reading with kids is so important.

Top 5 tips for raising good readers?

1.     First and foremost, read, read, read! The more the better! If you’re a super busy family it might be easier to have books as part of one of your daily routines, for example a book before every nap and another couple before bed at night. Otherwise, make the most of any opportunity to read with your little one. Even if it’s just a few pages here and there (as it often is with busy little people!), it’s all still adding to their positive early reading experience.

 2.     Own good quality books and have them accessible to your children at all times. Books are as important as toys, so should always be available for your children to read and enjoy as they desire. If you have an enthusiastic page ripper like I do, put the paperbacks and more precious books up out of reach (for reading when supervised!) and leave board books out for them. Have an ongoing conversation with your kids about how books are precious and we don’t rip them/draw in them/eat them/put them in the toilet. But also, expect to lose a few books in the process; this is all part of the learning experience.

3.     When reading with your kids, don’t be afraid to stray from the words in the books – talking about the pictures and asking questions are going to help them develop important language skills that will set them up to be better readers, speakers, and thinkers as they get older.

 4.     Take time to talk about the letters and sounds when reading. Even from as young as two, children will begin to pick up the names and sounds of familiar letters if you draw attention to them. This knowledge of letters and sounds is super important when learning to read and spell.

5.     Let your children see you reading and enjoying it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s War and Peace, Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, or Cosmo magazine, children who see their parents reading for enjoyment grow up to be better readers themselves. So, put down that phone for a while and pick up something to read next time your kids are occupied. Even just a few minutes here and there will have an impact on the value your kids place on reading.

 The tip cards worked so well for us, I didn’t realise how I read to Rocky was as important as just reading to him. Why is how we read to our kids so important?

That’s so awesome to hear! The tip cards are one of the things that make Little Bird Readers so much more than just buying a book off the shelf. Most people know that it’s important to read to children, but it is lesser known that how we read with them is actually more important! For many years now, research has shown that children who are interested and engaged in the activity of book reading, gain more benefits from it. This means they have better language, know more words, and have better skills that are important in reading such as sounding out words. How we make book reading interesting for children is by involving them in it, as an active participator, rather than just sitting and listening quietly to a story. This means doing things like asking them questions, talking about the pictures, and linking what they are reading about in the book to their own experience. Simple actions such as these significantly increase the learning your child will get from the book, and also make them want to read with you, as they are going to enjoy themselves more! This exact reason is a huge part of what I do at Little Bird Readers – giving parents fun and easy ideas for how to engage their kids with reading and get the most out of the experience of reading a book together.

What’s next for LBR?

Oh, so many things! I just wish I had more time! I’d absolutely LOVE to really get up and running a sponsored subscription, where families or businesses can purchase a subscription for a child in need, and then all the cool books and literacy development ideas can go straight to kids who need them most. I’d love to get my subscriptions into preschools and early childcare centers. I’m also really keen to branch out into a subscription for slightly older children. Currently I focus my books on children under 5 years of age, but I would love to release a subscription for beginner readers aged 5-8 years of age. LBR is only 6 months old and I am learning so much every day I run this business, so be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date as we continue to grow!

THE GARDEN

Our first book to arrive was The Garden which is an interactive flappy kind of book that has been a fave here not only with Rocky but with Ruby I love that our first two books were hard cover because having a little one in the house it meant I didn’t have to worry about Ruby Lou destroying Rocky’s books. We have taken this book away so many times and it is a staple in the nappy bag because of its compact size and again the fact it is so durable plus because it has the flaps to lift and explore it really holds Rocky’s attention if we are waiting around or on a flight. Like Amy talks about in the interview as subscribers not only do we get the tip cards with every month’s delivery but we also get access to an exclusive section on the website which has activities that stem from the book, it’s little things like this I as a busy parent would have never thought of without Amy’s expertise help to get us thinking outside the box. We loved reading The Garden and then taking Amy’s lead and getting out exploring using the book as a starting point we looked for bugs using the bug identification sheet the Amy recommended on the website and then played a sorting game we got from the exclusive section which involved myself labelling pieces of paper with sticks, leaves, grass, rocks and flowers then Rocky had to go and collect the different objects and place them on the correct card. So simple and effortless to get sorted but so much fun for Rocky and myself (oh and Ruby who just enjoys getting dirty and shit stirring whatever Rocky is doing).

WALTERS WEB

Our second book was Walters web which like them all was a huge it, this was the first time I really realised the importance of Amy’s tip cards and that it’s how you read to your kids that is just as important as reading to your kids. In this tip card Amy explained how reading the words and using your finger to underline the word you were trying to teach would really help with your child’s understanding and ability to recognize the word reading it themselves. Rocky picked up on this so quickly and I was gobsmacked that it was as simple as it was, he now is able to recognize and read a few different words just by the way I have read them to him. Something I would have never have done without Amy’s expertise and selection on books, the exclusive section for Walters Web encourages the use of playdough and I don’t know if I should thank Amy or glare at her haha because we now have a little boy who constantly says pedo pedo pedo (his way of saying playdough, not ideal I know lol). This was his first introduction to playdough and now he’s obsessed! I do just love seeing his imagination grow when he’s up at the table serving up ice creams and making waffles with a side of shark so I guess it’s a thank you Amy haha.

BEE AND ME and HOW DO FLOWERS GROW

Our last parcel contained two books one hard cover book called How do flowers grow which is similar to The Garden from our first month, it is the same publisher Usborne which I highly recommend looking into for good quality books! It is another interactive book with lift the flaps and question and answers about flowers and how they grow, which is such a natural transition from all the other books which have been similar themes. I loved that they all fit so nicely together as Rocky’s interest in nature had already peaked since we started doing the activities with the books. Oh and he is a huge green thumb most of the time it’s a good thing but sometimes he’s a bloody menace out there lol.

Bee and Me this is hands down my favourite book Rocky received because it’s not only so beautiful but it it’s a picture book and I would have never have given a picture book a second look on a shelf at a bookstore, mainly because I didn’t understand how cool they are but also how to read them and the importance of a picture book to help develop imagination. Once I had read the tip card I just let Rocky go for it we turned the page together and he told me the story, I asked him questions along the way and he was off. The best part was when he saw the page with the thunder and lightning and he clenched his wee fists making his interpretation on lightning sounds, he was growling and throwing his hands up it was actually the best thing ever! He loved the book just as much as me and we have now collected a wee stash of picture books for his birthday and Christmas. There is nothing that beats a kid’s imagination and just encouraging him to use it and that there is no wrong way of doing thing, picture books are the easiest way to encourage Rocky to be Rocky!

I actually just can’t rave enough about LBR subscriptions we have enjoyed our three months but it went far too quickly so I have the family subscription firmly on my Christmas list as their joint present and I’m also using the gift vouchers which make the best baby shower or birthday presents. I have said it before with other things but we must look at these as investments quality over quantity we have so many books that are obviously better than none but the quality is far from amazing I would 100% rather we had less books but good quality ones! I can vouch for Rocky that he has favourites and he doesn’t really stray from them so having books he genuinely loves are super important to me and he has LOVED every single book Amy has picked out for him. You can’t fault her expertise and genuine love for what she does I owe Amy many a thank you for the joy she has brought to our house but also for the knowledge it’s not just Rocky who’s learning through her but also myself and Jared.

I’ve popped together some info on pricing and broken it down for you as well.

  • Single book subscription
  • A three-month subscription $90.00 - $30.00 per book
  • A six-month subscription $165.00 -  $27.50 per book
  • A twelve-month subscription $295.00 - $24.50 per book
  • Family book subscription (two books per month and you can mix and match ages)
  • A Three-month subscription $155.00 - $26.00 per book
  • A six-month subscription $295.00 - $24.50 per book
  • A twelve-month subscription $$570.00 - $23.00 per book

Buying a book, a month yourself is not a hell of a lot cheaper and if like me you do most of your shopping online you’d struggle to get a decent book for that including shipping, I also 100% do not think you can put a price on Amy’s wealth of knowledge she is actually amazing at what she does.

If you would like to check out more from little bird reader’s, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Amy here or check them out on IG here and Facebook here.

Thank you Amy, we love what you do at LittleBird Readers xxx