Guest post: Hannah Jull on the benefits of a subscription gift for grandchildren who live far away
Hannah Jull is a British journalist and mother of five, living in Canada and curating her blog: The Mom and the Mum. We got to know Hannah almost 3 years ago when she agreed to review one of our subscription boxes and it’s safe to say she’s a fan of what we do.
Hannah’s mother went on to purchase a subscription for one of her granddaughters and it’s proved to be a lovely connection between the two of them, despite living on separate continents.
We’re thrilled that Hannah agreed to write this post for us about their Parrot Street experience and how much both grandparent and grandchild enjoy it!
Parrot Street has been responsible for at least two major changes in our lives. One, that I no longer only ask boring questions about the book my daughter is reading (‘Is it a good book?”); and two, that despite not having been in the same room as her grandparents for over a year, my daughter still has plenty to chat to them about. Also, I’m no longer desperately trying to come up with an answer for my mum asking what my children might want for Christmas.
Even before becoming a parent, one of the things I always imagined was my children reading books with their grandparents. Some of my own favourite childhood memories are of sitting and reading books next to my grandpa while he read his newspaper. It was cosy, familiar, companionable.
We might not be able to meet in person right now - for us, Covid aside, we have been living abroad for the past few years - but my daughter has been enjoying a Parrot Street gift subscription from her grandma and it has gone a long way to replicating the connection that books can facilitate. While my daughter may not have had an in-person cuddle with her grandma for a year (practically a lifetime for children) the Parrot Street book landing on our doormat provides an important physical connection amidst all the virtual chats.
Beyond that, the subscription has also provided a great conversation piece. The book club-style questions are a great pushing off point to talking in more depth - for me, so that I am not reduced to questions that have the same monosyllabic answers “are you enjoying it?” and am, instead, able to ask things that increase her understanding and enjoyment of the book. The books help diffuse that familiar one-way conversational dynamic between adults and children, so that instead of asking the same tired questions about school and so on, they can connect more deeply, over a shared experience.
Talking of shaking up a one-way dynamic, it is also delightful for my daughter to enjoy a book that I haven’t specifically chosen for her - an extra layer of independence, that builds confidence in her experience as a reader.
Because the subscription introduces a wide variety of genres, there is always plenty to talk about. My daughter immediately wants to tell her grandparents about the book that has arrived. She likes to share the cover with them and talk about what the book might be like. There are many different points of connection, from this initial “it’s arrived!” phonecall, to later speculating and talking about the storyline, and of course showing off the results from the activity pack.
Without dwelling too much on the unpredictability of this past year, it has been a predictable monthly joy for my daughter to anticipate and receive a special parcel through the door. Even her siblings are excited to see the Parrot Street parcel arriving: they all like to see what has been picked for the month, and often they will all join in with the activity ideas. And when I say ‘join in’, I think you know that I mean a heady combination of camaraderie and scuffles.
Scuffling aside, I can’t overstate how much we have loved the Parrot Street gift subscription experience. And now I won’t even have to spend my November fielding requests for gift ideas - I can just casually drop this link into conversation. Thanks mum!