Giving the Gift of Matching Books to Readers: Zoobean

In this season of giving,  I wanted to share one of the most important gifts that you can give to a child- BOOKS!  As a mom and educator, I see the power of books and the ability they have to shape and change lives.  Most likely, if you follow Growing Book by Book, you share that same passion!

On Facebook, I asked readers if they purchase books for holiday gifts and there was an overwhelming, “YES!”.  It warms my heart that so many little ones will be opening some new or used books this season.

Full Disclosure:  Zoobean provided a subscription for me to review.  All opinions expressed are my own! 

Books for Kids:  Matching books to readers from

I recently discovered Zoobean and have been in love ever since.  Zoobean is a company that matches books to readers.  It’s like having your own personal librarian.  Each month, a paperback or hardcover book is sent to your child.  But, it’s not just any book.  It’s a book that matches your child’s age level, genre interests, topic interests and reading level.

Here is the information I gave for my subscription.  Keep in mind you can adjust your settings as your child’s interests and levels change.

3 year-old boy

language: English

no preference on characters (animals or people were fine with us)

genre:  nature, adventure, fantasy & imagination

interests:  sports, the arts, trains, plains & transportation

reading level:  read-alouds


With that information, Zoobean sent us The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers.  It’s a fun little tale of a boy’s airplane running out of gas and landing on the moon.  There he meets a martian who has also lost his way.  Both frightened and alone, they learn that together they can be each other’s friend.  Pretty good fit in my opinion!

Books for Kids: The Way Back Home

When I was in the classroom and as a mom now, I often try to find books that match the interests of the kids.  This is especially helpful for reluctant readers.

Both of my boys have really been interested in the moon lately.  This time of year, the moon is so big and can often be seen during the day.  Reading this book was such a natural fit to something they were already curious about.

Zoobean also shares an electronic reading guide to go along with each book that they send.  Before reading, during reading and after reading questions are suggested.  I found them to be very well written.  They also share some follow-up activities you can do to extend the story.  We did some on the list and added a few more of our own.

Sensory play to extend stories and build oral language skills from

One follow-up idea we came up with to work on oral language skills was a sensory play experience.  We created and played with  “moon dust”.   This flour and baby oil mixture is more commonly referred to as cloud dough or moon sand.  We used Hellobee’s cloud dough recipe.

a topic a child is interested in + a great book + a sensory experience + conversation = wonderful literacy growth

It’s so interesting to watch my son as he discovers more books about the moon.  At the library last week, he found On The Moon by Anna Milbourne and Benji Davies.  It was a great introductory book about astronauts taking a trip to the moon.  Though my 3 year-old is interested in the moon, he has no plans to ever visit!

On the Moon

We’ll see how long this interest in the moon lasts.  Right now, as a parent I’m going to nurture this natural curiosity as much as possible.  I see a moon observation journal on our horizon.

What is your child interested in these days?  Take time to notice and nurture that curiosity with related books and conversation.  It truly is the best gift you can give a child!

Interested in learning more about Zoobean?  You can try or gift Zoobean.  You can also follow along with Zoobean on Facebook.

I know we are looking forward to our next book from Zoobean!

Happy Growing Book by Book!

About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.


  1. Wow, Zoobeam really sounds great!!!

  2. I’d never heard of Zoobeam! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I haven’t heard of Zoobean, but agree on an importance of matching books to kids. I always tried to do that – we went through a photo book phase, non-fiction phase, poetry phase, and now well into fantasy. It’s also interesting to see how their reading interests change over time. Thanks for sharing this review with Afterschool.

  4. I haven’t heard of this either, but I”m impressed with the concept. I’ve added a subscription to each of my kid’s wish lists. Thanks!

  5. Great Post!

  6. Great review, Jodie! As one of the Zoobean curators, it’s especially fun to see that your kids are enjoying the book they received. :)

  7. Lisa McCulloch says:

    Just want to say that there are several books available for the same type of thing. I would highly recommend both. Jim Trelease Read Aloud Handbook is unbeatable. Teri Tesesne’s Reading Ladder is also great. Also, want to encourage everyone to talk to their children’s librarian = either at the public library or the school library. They do an excellent job of making recommendtions!

    • Thanks for sharing Lisa! Jim Trelease Read Aloud Handbook is a great resource that I have referenced many times over the years. Also, the first place I saw the rain gutter bookshelves which I love. Can’t wait to check out Reading Ladder. That is a new title to me. And yes, I’m a huge fan of libraries and the great librarians!