Growing up, reading was always a special part of Lani Kilpatrick-Coles’ life, losing herself in the magic of books. Her love of literature continued and she became a librarian, but she wanted to find more ways to share her passion and knowledge of children’s literature with others. This is what inspired her to create Bubs And Books. They make early literacy fun by delivering their beautiful book boxes to your doorstep each month. All of their books are carefully considered and chosen, and their subscription boxes come with a monthly newsletter and an activity card packed with ideas to promote greater early literature outcomes for your child. Here, Lani talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind Bubs And Books and their business journey so far.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Reading was my favourite leisure activity as a child, and I spent countless hours lost in magical worlds, casting spells, crossing oceans, riding dragons, and saving the world time and time again. I grew up to become a Librarian, but I wanted to find even more ways to share my love and knowledge of children’s literature with the rest of the world. Our Little Library Box book subscription for kids is all about bringing the joy of reading to a new generation and making it easy for families to access the best children’s books available today.
Did you know that reading with your child for just 20 minutes a day exposes them to 1.8 million words a year? This has incredible benefits for their vocabulary, early literacy skills, and overall development. But, at Bubs And Books, we don’t just want to help your kids learn how to read, we also want them to get excited about reading. We think receiving a monthly package of carefully chosen books and fun activities is pretty hard to beat!
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
It all started during the long COVID-19 lockdown. I was working from home, so I found myself missing the special, daily interactions I had with families in the library during Storytime. My friends who have kids were talking about how they were struggling to find quality, age-appropriate books to buy online and find the time to read with their little ones. I thought, I can help with that!
I figured that, if we could find a way to supply an amazing, diverse range of picture books directly to young families, and present it all in a way that would make kids get excited about reading, it would be much easier for busy families to start developing those fundamental early literacy skills at home.
My husband and I started staying up late, working till 3am most mornings to develop a business plan, a website, and ideas for what to include in our Little Library Box subscription and our range of bookish gift boxes. We started building a wonderful community of book-loving families on Instagram and eventually launched our website in November 2021. Our subscribers say that having these beautiful books delivered directly to their doorstep each month makes reading together as a family much easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The greatest breakthrough moment was when we truly discovered what our point of difference was. We realised that our subscribers are unique because they are looking for books that are a little more special than the mass-produced picture books that fill the shelves in all the big department stores. Our subscribers want picture books that are fantastical pieces of art, picture books that take you on a journey and make you laugh, or cry a little, or find some deeper sense of meaning. Our subscribers want to raise kids who are kind, compassionate, and who can think for themselves, and they want the right books that will support this.
Once we realised that we needed to focus our energy on selecting books that were not just great, but exceptional, we started building a selection criteria for our picture books and worked had to make sure that we could supply activities and learning ideas that would build on the themes in the books. Our subscribers definitely noticed a difference, and now the parents are just as excited to open up the book boxes (and read those books again and again and again) as their kids are!
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Spending time with the people I love is one of my core values, but it definitely can be tricky to find that sense of balance! As well as being a small business owner, I work full-time running literacy-based programs and events at a beautiful, busy library, so time is a hot commodity.
I try to do most of the administrative and social media jobs for Bubs And Books during my daily commute on the train. This means when I get home, I have more time to spend the evening with my hubby and fur-babies. I have also been very lucky to have such a fantastic husband who is willing to sit and brainstorm ideas with me, and help me out when I need a break. Sometimes when we have a busy week full of family or other social events, I will go a bit quiet on our Bubs And Books social media so I can be more present in the moment.