Grow Books: Cultivating Imaginations Right Here in Chicago

Grow Books: Cultivating Imaginations Right Here in Chicago

I love a good surprise. When my kiddos recently received an intriguing package from Grow Books, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect.

What we discovered inside our neatly-wrapped, rectangular, red package actually isn’t a book at all. Local Chicago company (by now you surely know that I am a sucker for all-things local) Grow Books makes “zero waste activity sets.”

Stick with me for a second here because the concept is a little tricky to explain.

The “Imagine Your World” set from Grow Books is a series of six interactive activity sheets that invite children to draw, collect, discover, and learn how various systems in their day-to-day experience work. Each sheet is a large piece of drafting paper, divided into various sections with minimal instruction and just a bit of detail and inspiration here and there to encourage kids to get started. I really like that the activity presents a pretty blank palette.

One sheet is devoted to the various components of the human body. Another explores the idea of gardening and cultivating living things in our environment. My kids particularly enjoyed mapping out our neighborhood —  complete with local businesses, parks and other favorite destinations.

The instructions that accompany the set encourage users to tear up the final product and compost it once they are done. My daughter isn’t one to part with her artistic endeavors, so I think that these activity sheets will be with us for a bit.  And that is just fine with me. These sheets are honestly too much for my little guys to tackle all in one sitting. I like the idea that they can return to this project another day when they might have a new take on the experience and decide to take it in another direction.

Honestly, I think that is probably exactly what creator Alyson Beaton hopes kids will do with her creation. Visit to learn more about this product (and maybe purchase a few as gifts for the dozens of birthday parties that your kids are going to be invited to this year – that’s what I am going to do).


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