Reading Chest Review and Competition to Win 3 Month’s Free Membership
One lucky winner will get to win three months free access to Reading Chest’s Bronze Level Membership.
All you have to do is complete the entries provided in the Rafflecopter below and we’ll take care of the rest.
Please scroll down below for an extensive review of Reading Chest’s book swapping service using a Bronze Level Membership.
Reading Chest Review:
Research shows that reading with children for just ten minutes per day can make a dramatic difference in how they perform at school. But, finding enough interesting reading material at the right level for your child can be difficult, with few schools changing books on a daily basis and few libraries providing a solid selection of reading scheme books.
However, now you can encourage children to develop their love of reading with Reading Chest, an innovative book rental service for primary-age children learning to read.
Motherhood Diaries was offered 3 months of free access to the Bronze Level Membership as part of a review on Reading Chest, and here are our findings:
Reading Chest’s Website:
What is Reading Chest?
Reading Chest, founded by Liz Walker, a former primary school teacher and mother of three, is the UK’s only through-the-post book rental service for reading scheme books aimed at children aged 4 – 9. For a monthly membership fee, children receive regular deliveries of books from Reading Chest’s extensive selection of reading schemes, including Oxford Reading Tree, Project X, Rigby Star and Collins Big Cat. These include both fiction and non-fiction titles.
Each delivery comes complete with a pre-paid return envelope, making it easy for even the busiest of parents to provide their children with some great choices for their daily dose of reading.
Who does Reading Chest cater for?
Children aged 4 – 9 years old
How much does membership cost?
Monthly membership starts from £9.95 and all new members receive a book bag, a bookmark, a reward chart and stickers. Certificates are available to download from the Reading Chest website and budding literary critics can even see their own book reviews published online!
Leyla Preston (Mummy)
Aron Martin Preston (3 years old)
I was very excited to receive an offer to review Reading Chest’s service as Aron is a very keen reader, and even though he’s only 3 years old and this service caters for children from 4 years plus, Aron has in fact started to read. He learned phonics when he was just shy of 3 and can read a lot of the two to four letter words in the English language. So, I am very keen to build on his reading skills.
To get started, I visited Reading Chest’s website, www.readingchest.co.uk, to sign up. Here is a screenshot of their home page:
Step 1 – Prices & Packages:
When you click on ‘Sign up’, you are taken to a page that shows you the membership offers available – ‘Step 1: Prices & Packages’:
The packages available are:
|You receive an initial delivery of:|
|How many swaps per month?|
|Based on returning 3 books at a time this will give you up to:|
6 books each month
12 books each month
Unlimited amount of books each month
|How many book lists can you make?|
1 or 2
1, 2, or 3
A good supply of books for 1 reader. All books selected will be at the same reading level.
A great supply of books for 1 reader or good to share between siblings at different reading levels.
Unlimited books for 1 reader or good to share between two or three siblings at different reading levels.
I was offered 3 months free for the Bronze Package, so I signed up to the Bronze Package.
Step 2 – Choose a Book Band:
You are then taken to a page where you can ‘Choose a book band’.
As Aron is at the very beginning of his reading journey, I picked ‘Stage 1’, which is the ‘Pink book band’ and then clicked on, ‘Go to the next step!’.
The recommended reading age is 4 – 5 years old. If you are unsure of which band to pick, the page below offers you the chance to look through the sample pages to see if the selected book band is right for your child.
Step 3 – Reading Scheme Selection:
You are given further options to tailor the package to meet your child’s interests.
01 – You can select whether you would prefer to read fiction, non-fiction or both. I selected ‘Both’.
02 – You can tell Reading Chest the reading schemes you would like. All the schemes are selected by default, but you can exclude particular schemes by unchecking the boxes. I just left it on, ‘all schemes selected’.
03 – Your choices above will determine how many books you will be given. The selection I picked will give me 137 books. Sounds like more than enough to me!
Step 4 – Your Details:
Here you’ll get the chance to input all of your details and your gift voucher code for 3 months free with the Bronze Package, if you are the lucky winner!
Step 5 – Correspondence Details:
You are then asked to fill out your address details, your child’s name (as it will appear on the envelope) and whether you’d like to receive an occasional email newsletter from readingchest.co.uk.
Step 6 – Payment Details:
You get the chance to review your choices here and confirm that your selections are correct. If you are the winner of our competition, you will see a similar message from Reading Chest below. You will be asked to enter your credit card details, but you will not be charged unless you agree to carry on your membership after the 3 months have expired.
Step 7 – You’re done!
Our first delivery should be with us within 2 -3 working days. So, now we wait!
Step 8: We receive our package!
We were very excited when a package came through the post and Aron anxiously ripped open the white envelope (above) to go through all the items in his red book bag.
So, what did we get?
- One super cute red book bag for Aron to carry his books in;
- One A4 pre-paid envelope;
- One bookmark;
- One set of stickers;
- One reward chart;
- Leaflet on Reading Chest, welcoming you to the service; and
- 4 x books in the pink band. These are:
- Tiger’s Family
- My Cushion!
- Who is it?
- Got It!
I placed all of the items in the red book bag provided for Aron, so that he could pick out his lucky first book to read. He brought out the book, ‘Who is it?’
Who is it? – Series created by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta – Oxford Reading Tree Scheme
‘Who is it?’ is a very thin book, 8 pages in length, but at this early stage of reading, I can imagine a 4 year olds’ concentration span lasts about 5 minutes when they’re reading. So, I knew that the length of the book wouldn’t bother Aron, who is only 3! At the back of the book, a label has been added to let the parent know what book you are reading, the book band, the scheme and the book’s stock code.
Inside the front cover, there is an address label for ‘Reading Chest’ to remind the parent that this book belongs to Reading Chest and it is not a keepsake. The inside cover very helpfully tells the parent what to do with their child before reading the book, during reading, and a little bit about the words in the book. More specifically, it talks about how to read the book to your child, ensuring they gain maximum benefit from reading through the scheme, i.e. talk about the words you see and help your child sound out some of the words in the book.
Each of the pages in the book only contain 1 to 3 words, with large illustrations above each sentence. This helped Aron really grasp what the words meant in relation to the pictures and what the book was about as a whole. ‘Who is it?’ is set at a family and friends gathering, under a lit marquee, and friends and family make shadows using the light and themselves, so that the others have to guess what they are. Everyone has a go, including dad, who dresses up as a spaceman.
There is an ‘After Reading’ instruction from Reading Chest to prompt me to ask Aron about what he thought of the shadow game and how dad made himself into a spaceman using household items, such as a colander and some bedding.
We got into a proper conversation about shadows and throughout the day Aron pointed out his shadows to me whenever he noticed them. He even learned some words in the process!
Tiger’s Family – by Shoo Rayner and illustrated by Jon Stuart – Project X Scheme
Tiger’s Family is another short book, containing 12 pages in total, and the concept is pretty much the same as ‘Who is it?’ The book, helpfully, tells me what I should be doing with Aron before, during and after reading the book and warns me of some tricky words Aron might find during this reading.
Tiger’s Family is about a boy called Tiger and a typical day with his family, who are all aptly named at the beginning of the book. Mum has made some cakes, which all get hurled to the floor as Tiger and his brother runs through the kitchen door. The book very cleverly talks about the varying emotions that each member of the family are faced with, i.e. ‘Mum is sad,’ ‘Dad is mad’, and I am instructed to talk with Aron about why mum was sad and whether Aron liked the book. I believe this is to get him to talk about his own emotions and teach him to express himself through words.
Again, each page only has 1 – 4 words, so to not overwhelm the child during reading, and a lot of the words are repeated to help imprint that word onto the child’s brain.
I was very impressed that Aron already knew how to read the word, ‘Tiger’, but I had to help him with the tricky words that were forewarned in the front of the book. Aron really enjoyed sounding out ‘sad’ and ‘mad’ and even acted a little angry when the cakes fell onto the floor.
Got it! – By Charlotte Guillain and Ley Honor Roberts – C. Collins Big Cat Phonics Scheme
Got it! Has 15 pages in total and uses 3 to 6 words in a sentence. There are no instructions at the front of the book, but a more detailed instruction sheet at the back entitled, ‘Ideas for reading’, which goes into more detail about how to read to the child and what to discuss with them during and after reading.
Got it! Is about a father and daughter at the beach, trying to catch a crab using a net and tipping the crab into a pot. The daughter then tips the crab back into the pond it came from, with illustrative final two pages showing the process of how she caught the crab.
I was instructed to read the title and blurb with Aron, focusing on blending the individual words together. I also was to discuss rock pooling and what we need it for. I asked Aron what he could see in the pictures and he very intelligently pointed out the beach, the net, the pot and the crab. He even explained what the daughter was doing, ‘She is catching that crab in the net’.
I wasn’t able to challenge Aron to suggest other words that ended in ck, for example, or to draw a picture of equipment needed for rock pooling, as he isn’t at that stage yet. But, if I keep on with this reading activity at least once every day, it won’t take long for him to widen his vocabulary enough to complete these stages at a later date.
My Cushion! By Alison Hawes and Tania Hurt-Newton – Rigby Star Scheme
My Cushion! Has 8 pages in total and uses very simple wording, mainly repeating, ‘My Cushion!’ in various contexts. It contains only two keywords, ‘my’ and ‘no’, which I felt was just enough to help Aron understand and memorise the words properly before moving on.
The book is all about a brother and sister fighting over a cushion, which finally breaks, and mum comes in and exclaims, ‘Oh no! My cushion!’
My Cushion! Was Aron’s favourite book. He wanted to read it about 5 times before putting it down. I think he really related to fighting over something with his brother. I was instructed to ask Aron why mum was upset at the end of the story and how the children felt during the book. Aron said it was everyone’s cushion, which was actually right, so I couldn’t really argue with him on that point. Although, I did mention that too much fighting over something could lead that object to break and then no one could play with it afterwards. Towards the end of the day, I noticed Aron offer his trains to his brother. Perhaps, the book had left a mark on him to not fight over his toys with his brother? Well, perhaps, just for now…
I emphasised to Aron that because he had read all 4 books so beautifully, he was allowed to place 4 stickers on his reward chart to progress his journey through the reading map. I asked him about which colour stickers we should add to the reward chart when he had successfully completed 4 pink band books. He answered correctly, ‘pink’, but decided it was more fun to take out all of the stickers and add them to the fridge. I helped him pick out 4 pink stickers instead and he took great pride adding them to his reading map.
After sampling Reading Chest’s first book session, I was left feeling very proud of my son that he had read 4 books so well, and, most importantly, I felt like Aron had really progressed in his reading. I decided to hold onto the books for a couple more days, so that I could get Aron to read them again before placing three of them back in the pre-paid envelope and sending them back to Reading Chest to swap for three more books.
I really enjoyed the whole service, I felt like I had learned how to be a teacher and not just a parent, and I want to carry this on every day with both of my boys. I believe Reading Chest will make up a valuable part of both of my sons’ reading education and help them expand on their already growing love for books.
What did I like most about Reading Chest’s service?
How simple it is to set up the service and how much I learned about how to teach my son to read.
What to watch out for:
One of the books came with a huge fold down the front. Make sure you make a point of this in the sections provided at the back of the pre-paid envelope, so that you are not charged for the damage. The back of the pre-paid envelope offers you three options when returning the books, i.e.
‘Received the wrong book(s)’
‘Book(s) damaged – sorry!’
‘Book(s) received already damaged’ – This is where I made a point that the front of ‘My Cushion!’ had a fold down the middle.
Other points to note:
As these books are not yours and they will need to be returned at some point, you have to make an extra point of not letting any little people get their hands all over it. I felt very bad for Aidan, who is only 2, because every time he wanted to handle the book, I had to snatch it back off him and take control over his interest.
5 out of 5
Reading Chest is a fantastic service and it will not just help Aron to progress with his reading, but also build on our strong mother/son relationship. I just wished Aidan was old enough to join us too L