Raven Reads: A Unique Indigenous Book Box Subscription for Kids

There are so many amazing Indigenous authors that write wonderful and engaging stories for children. Raven Reads aims to introduce children to these stories with their seasonal subscription book boxes. 

Image with some example boxes from Raven Reads with the text: Raven Reads, Indigenous Book & Giftware Subscription Boxes: A Review

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WHAT IS RAVEN READS? 

Founded by Nicole MacLaren, Raven Reads began as a way to share Indigenous stories and experiences. This turned into a subscription box program – one for adults and one for children through a curated collection of books and art. Based out of British Columbia, this Canadian company has grown incredibly since it began, turning around to support other Indigenous businesses and authors across North America.

WHO IS THE RAVENS READS SUBSCRIPTION BOX FOR?

If you are looking for a way to add some quality books to your bookshelves while supporting Indigenous creators, then Raven Reads boxes are for you. They are a fantastic way to discover new and favourite authors, as well as support a woman-owned, Indigenous business (and all the authors and companies she supports as well!) 

There are two options of boxes available. 

The first is for adults. This box usually includes a book along with various giftware. It’s a great option for any adult who wants to read quality literature, but it isn’t really intended for kids or youth, so not every book would be a good fit for those age ranges. There are also a collection of unique gifts as well in this box, featuring some amazing Indigenous artists.

The second is for kids up to the age of about 9. Inside are two to three picture books. Once in a while you will find something completely unexpected and instead of a book – you might find something different. Because these are picture books, they will appeal best to the Preschool through Grade 2 range, but they do great at drawing in attention of older kids as well through beautiful artwork and stories.

WHAT DO YOU GET IN AN ADULT’S RAVEN READS BOX?

I only received one adult box back in January of 2021. It included a great collection of items. 

An image of everything in the January 2021 Raven Reads Box - a book called Black Water, a beaded bracelet, a canvas bag with soy candles, and a package of classic bannock mix.

In the box I got last year, I received a book called Black Water by David A. Robertson. I haven’t finished it yet (finding time to read for enjoyment is hard in my chaotic life), but the part I have read is a fascinating conversational style story about a man on the search for his heritage and history. 

There were also some goodies like a beautiful bead bracelet, handcrafted soy candles, and a bag of classic bannock mix from Mr. Bannock. I jumped right in and made the delicious treat – although, I admittedly didn’t do it properly and ended up having to get creative to fix my mistake of cooking the whole dough at once instead of piece by piece. But once fixed… it was phenomenal. 

An orange bowl with batter and a wooden spoon on a countertop sitting beside instructions on how to make bannock.

Each box is different. I’ve seen pictures of things like coffee, handcrafted soap, bead kits, tea, lotions, and more included in various boxes over the year. You never know what you’ll get! That’s half of the fun.

WHAT DO YOU GET IN A CHILDREN’S RAVEN READS’ BOX? 

Each spring, summer, fall  and winter, a decorated box arrives in your mailbox full with a small collection of 2-3 picture books specifically for kids, along with an activity page with information about the books and the authors featured. Once in a while, you might even find something completely unexpected in your box.

Over the last year, I’ve had the honour of working with the company as one of their ambassadors. Every time one arrives in our mailbox, my daughter tears into the box with excitement to see what books she gets to read with me. 

Each box ends up with at least one new favourite for our book shelves. I’ve already read the story The Walrus who Escaped like 100 times. 

One time, we got an counting board in our box instead of a book (so 2 books and the counting board.) Created out of wood, there were channels carved to place items for counters. A numeral (such as 1, 2, 3) were on one edge of the board and the Michif word for each number on top of the grooves. We used some beads that we had around the house to give it a try.

Little girl adding beads to a wooden counting board with Michif words

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THESE BOXES

Although I am not Indigenous, I love and admire the various brilliant and wonderful cultures represented by our Indigenous people. For me, these boxes offer the opportunity to introduction my children to these various communities that we may not encounter in our every day lives. And for them to see different people and different family groups represented in books. For example, there have been some big topics like Louis Riel and a boy who visits his birth family for traditional lessons during one season and lives with his adoptive family another.

Having different perspectives presented to my children is important too. For example, one story was of a family who lived in the Arctic and only had one pencil. That’s it. One! It blew my daughter’s mind to think that could be possible since she has bins and bins of pencils that she can use. It made her think about all that she has.

My favourite thing is that many of these books for kids use words and alphabets from different Indigenous languages. How amazing is it that we get to see these languages being shared, remembered, and taught? Usually there are pronunciation guides in the back of the books, which is super handy as well. 

Picture taken of a beautiful page inside the book The Bear's Medicine by Sus Yoo - a traditional art style family of bears under a bright sun going for a walk.
Picture taken of a beautiful page inside the book The Bear’s Medicine by Sus Yoo

Every single book that we’ve received has been incredibly beautiful. The artwork is captivating. And, it’s also given me a chance to talk about more traditional styles of art from the Indigenous community.

I asked my 6 year old daughter what she loved about them and she said that she loves that it comes with activities. There’s always a little paper insert with these books – often with information on the stories and the authors, but also with puzzles or games. Recently, she loved the introduction to the new Raven Reads Jr. mascot, Smudge – a baby raven. She worked hard to colour him in and display him on our fridge art collection. 

Image of a cartoon baby raven coloured in black marker with a yellow beak, clipped to a refrigerator.

SOME IDEAS THAT WOULD MAKE THIS EVEN BETTER

Obviously, I would love there to be more in the boxes. More stories and goodies to check out – because the pile seems to vanish too quickly! (Greedy of me though! We can wait for the next box!)

It would be interesting to have some extra resources related to whatever is in that season’s box. For example, a video chat with an author or illustrator or a colouring sheet or recipe, etc – some way to take it a step farther. In a recent box, one book was based on a song. It would have been neat to have a link to hear it sung by the musician.

My biggest wish is that there was a way to discover a quality resource that gives audio examples on how the language of the books included that month sounds so my kids can hear it first hand instead of me trying my best. It’s not always easy to recognize the language presented to research it myself. 

Regardless, we are always pleased with the boxes we receive and don’t feel like they are lacking in anyway.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST AND WHEN DO THEY ARRIVE? 

You can choose the plan that best works for your family: a single box, two times a year, or seasonally (four boxes in a year.)  

  • A single box from the next season – Kids: $69.99  /  Adult: $87.99
  • Bi-annual subscription – Kids: $133.99  /   Adult: $169.99
  • Annual subscription – Kids: $259.99  /  Adult: $329.99

Sometimes you can order a past box at a discount, but these vary in availability and cost. 

Prices are in Canadian dollars and shipping is free anywhere in Canada. It’s only $5 if you live outside of Canada. 

Ordering ends on the 15th of the month before they are shipped. So March, July, October, and December 15th are the cut offs to order the next boxes and then they are shipped out the following month. 

If you would like to subscribe or get a single box, visit Raven Reads and use the code: CANADIANHOMESCHOOLER to save 15%

Special offer image with pictures of book bundles. Save 15% on your Raven Reads order with the code: CANADIANHOMESCHOOLER

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