Family Reading Crate Subscription Review – May 2019
Family Reading Crate is a book subscription box designed with the whole family in mind. Each month you will get about 4 books based on a common theme. One book will be hand-picked for the adults in the family, and one will be specifically for the kids. You will also receive a booklet with discussion questions and a few other items to fit the theme, such as collectible bookmarks.
This subscription is offered through Build Your Library, a secular literature-based homeschool curriculum website.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Family Reading Crate
The Subscription Box: Family Reading Crate
The Cost: $26.99 + $8.00 shipping
The Products: A selection of 4 family-friendly books (including one picked just for the adults in the family), a discussion booklet, and a few other items related to the box theme.
Ships to: US
Family Reading Crate “Books in Space” Box Review
The booklet in the box introduces the month’s theme, which is “Books in Space.” It gives a brief description of each book and which member of the family it’s appropriate for. They also include a link to their website, which provides activities and printables, as well as suggestions for other books and movies that relate to the month’s theme. These are great ways for the whole family to expand upon and engage with the theme.
I also got discussion questions for each of the kids’ books. These range from questions about the content to prompts about personal opinions of the stories. These questions are perfect for starting family discussions or to use as writing prompts for a homeschool curriculum.
Instead of discussion questions for the adult book, there is a book review by the curator of the box.
I also got three bookmarks in this box. It looks like the curator of the box has published her own book about the philosophy she uses to select literature for secular homeschooling.
Each month, members get a little toy or something to go along with the books. This month, I received four mini notepads with satellites and astronaut designs.
This was the book for the younger readers in the family, and it is awesome! My kids loved reading this book and learning all about what it takes to be an astronaut. This book has a lot of educational information that is presented in a way that is interesting and engaging for younger readers. There were a lot of fun facts about the type of training that astronauts have to go through and what it’s like to be an astronaut. My kids were really excited to hear about it all.
This book is meant to be the family read-aloud book this month. It tells the story of Lucy and her dog Laika and alternates between their two perspectives. Lucy is incredibly smart, loves space, and has even built her own rocket ship in her backyard. While she has hopes to travel to space, this is just a prototype that she is working on—that is, until her dog Laika ends up accidentally launching herself into space. Lucy is distraught and saddened while Laika has quite the adventure. Lucy grows up and becomes a Nobel-Prize-winning scientist, all the while never giving up her search for Laika.
This story is told in such a simple way that is easy to read, but also comes across as extremely intelligent and educational. Lucy studies and learns and works hard, leading her to become an incredible scientist. It’s a great example of what you can achieve with hard work, but there is also a sense of sadness as Lucy grows older and still longs for her friend. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. This was such a unique and imaginative book that I enjoyed!
This book is meant for the older child or teen in the family. While it seems like a very fictional piece of work, considering the current news about space travel, this book might not be that far-fetched after all!
Tristan has known that he and his family were going to be on the first mission to colonize Mars since he was twelve years old, and he has been training ever since. However, knowing that he would be leaving for Mars with no plan to return didn’t stop him from falling in love with Izzy.
But now, at sixteen, it’s time to leave Earth, and he’s forced to face what he must leave behind in exchange for an uncertain future. When the news hits that another ship is already headed to colonize Mars, and the NeoLuddite terrorist group begins threatening the Mars One project, the mission’s purpose is called into question. Is this all worth it?
This book was easy for me to get into, as it is told from easy-going teenager Tristan’s perspective as he begins to prepare for his new life on Mars. He has to complete training and schooling along with the other three teens who will be going to Mars. Meanwhile, the teens are under the scrutiny of the media as they try to capture every part of their lives before they embark on this journey. Of course, the book is most interested in his relationship with Izzy, the girl he loves and must leave behind. Not knowing what the future holds is scary and exciting, and this book definitely hooked me even though it’s way outside my normal genre. This is a great book for a teenager and could lead to some pretty interesting discussions!
This book is for the adult in the family. It has such an absurd concept that I was definitely intrigued! Unfortunately, I just could not get myself into this book. It was very cleverly written, but wow, was it wordy! My tired mom brain could not muddle through this one long enough to get a real feel for the story. The concept still sounds really fun, and I may revisit this book one day. But after four separate attempts, I had to give up! Just to give you an idea of the types of very long wordy sentences, here is one: “Imagine the profound existential annoyance of those telekinetic sea squirts who ruled half the galaxy when their deep-space pioneers encountered the Sziv, a race of massively intelligent pink algae who fast-forwarded their evolutionary rise up the pop charts with spore-based nanocomputers, whose language consisted of long, luminous screams that could last up to fourteen hours and instantly curdle any nearby dairy products.”
A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.
Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.
This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.
Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.
Verdict: This month’s Family Reading Crate centered around a theme I wasn’t too sure about, since space isn’t exactly my forte. But the books surprised me with their incredibly unique plots! This box is so well-curated, and the book selections are always pretty great. (I can’t discount Space Opera, since I have not read enough of it!) The retail value is also pretty awesome—$62.96 for a $34.99 ($26.99 + $8.00 shipping) box, and that number doesn’t include the bookmarks, discussion booklet, or space notebooks, all of which definitely serve to enhance the reading experience. Even with sale prices, you are still exceeding the cost of the box!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Yes, as of publication this box is still available, but these boxes do tend to sell out!
Value Breakdown: At $34.99 (price + shipping) for this box, here’s approximately what you are paying per item:
- Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy: $4.44
- Lucy and the Rocket Dog by Will Buckingham: $9.44
- Mars One by Jonathan Maberry: $10.00
- Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente: $11.11
Keep track of your subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of this month’s Family Reading Crate?