Why we're launching a new book subscription box for kids aged 12+

Parrot Street Book Club co-founder Sarah Campbell with her son.


There’s a new bird on the block! We are very excited to be launching a new Parrot Street reading category, Macaws, for young readers aged 12+. It’s something we’ve been planning to do for a long time. We’ve always wanted our book club to grow as our subscribers get older and as my own son prepares to head off to secondary school, now feels like the right time. Here’s why…

What should my 11-year-old read next?

My son is 11 years old. He’s always been a good reader, although he goes through phases of reading very little and I wouldn’t describe his reading habits as voracious. He’s gearing up to start secondary school in September and so much about his world view, his sense of self and independence is changing at the moment. And one of the biggest shifts I’ve noticed is in his choice of reading material.

At 11 going on 12 years old, he has exhausted Harry Potter, Alex Rider and Percy Jackson. He’s increasingly reluctant to take my reading suggestions and he definitely feels like he’s outgrown most middle grade fiction. He says he finds it boring and while there are still plenty of books aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds that I think he would enjoy, I suspect there’s little point me pushing them on him. The point is that as he transitions out of primary school, he feels more grown up than he did a few months ago and he wants the books he reads to reflect this.

There is a wealth of amazing books for young adults out there. It’s a thriving category and rightly celebrated. But my son is still only 11 and he’s not yet ready for material that is clearly aimed at teenagers. I’m excited for him to discover some of the YA fiction I’ve loved myself in recent years, such as The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – but we’re not there yet.

Two series he’s currently enjoying are Robin Hood by Robert Muchamore and Young Bond by Charlie Higson. But I know there’s more out there for him – how do I find it? And how do I keep him interested in reading when finding the books that will inspire him is so difficult?

Why we’re launching Macaws, a brand-new Parrot Street reading category

It’s this no-man’s land between middle grade and young adult fiction that we intend to bridge with our brand-new subscription boxes aimed at pre-teens and early teens. In a nod to their growing independence, we are giving them a choice each month between two books, something we hope will help engage and empower them as readers. When picking the books for this age group, our top priorities will be:

  1. Gender neutral books with a mix of male and female leads – our subscription boxes are aimed at both boys and girls, so none of the books we select will be pitched at one gender or another;
  2. Diversity and inclusion – we will be looking for characters from a mix of backgrounds and stories that reflect a range of experiences;
  3. More mature content, but still age-appropriate for this group – we will be careful around depictions of sex and relationships in particular;
  4. A good mix of themes and genres – we believe in a varied reading diet and we aim to offer our subscribers a wide-ranging selection of books.

Keeping the reading habit alive

Keeping our kids reading as they enter their teenage years can be tough, but it’s vital. All the intellectual and social benefits that reading for pleasure brings are as important for teens and pre-teens as they are for younger readers.

At 11 or 12 years old, our children are increasingly aware of what is going on in the world. Books are an enormously powerful tool in helping them make sense of what is happening around them, shaping their own opinions, empowering them to take action and inspiring allyship.

In recent months I’ve witnessed my son and his friends starting to speak much more confidently and in a way that is much more informed about the issues they encounter in the news. So much of that will be to do with the fiction books they’ve read, books that have explored and helped explain these issues to them in a way they can relate to - and in a way that empowers them. Making sure that continues into their teenage years is critical. Our hope is that our new Macaw subscription boxes will help keep feeding their reading routines, introducing them to the best and most age-appropriate books as they emerge into young adulthood.

Interested in our Macaws book subscription box? Find out more and sign up here. For more on why reading for pleasure is so important for this age group, read our expert's view here.


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