During this pandemic, take armchair adventures around the world with these awesome travel books 

Started to keep her own children entertained, BrownBoxToys now has launched a portal of their own. Founder Sonali Shankardass based out of Mumbai lets us in on all that it offers. We are excited!
One of the boxes | (Pic: BrownBoxToys)
One of the boxes | (Pic: BrownBoxToys)

Shall we go on a trip to Italy, the Bel Paese? Or how about an animal Safari Down Under in Australia? No! We haven't gone bonkers. Yes, the pandemic is still looming large and yes, we are aware that there's a new strain in the air. But books can take us there safely. Not just any books, we are talking about the books from BrownBoxToys, made by Sonali Shankardass. You see, initially, she started these to keep her two children engaged while going to exciting places. It was just two years back that she started focusing harder on it, but even then, it was just a South Bombay thing. But then, Corona served as a catalyst and she started her own portal via which we can purchase these books that transport us to another world!  

Would you like to hear some trivia? Kids love trivia! I mean, who doesn't? Who wouldn't like to know that there are more kangaroos than people in Australia? Or that Churchill, the town in Canada is also the Polar Bear Capital? "So I started putting together these fun facts in the form of books to offer children armchair adventures," says Sonali. And that's exactly what the pandemic calls for! But she has no intention of competing with the beautiful books out there already, that's why her books are different. How? In every brown box comes a book and along with it stickers, a postcard and a photograph. "They can use stickers throughout the book, making reading more than a passive activity," explains the 52-year-old. So you can personalise the books using stickers to make your own trip!

Mumbai box | (Pic: BrownBoxToys)

There are stickers of binoculars you can use beside the picture of a bald eagle in the book, to denote sharp eyesight. There will be sticker money for you to purchase souvenirs. And that’s how it works. Currently, there are 12 box offerings, which comprise trips to Australia, Canada, India, China, England, Kenya, Peru, Italy and Amchi Mumbai. So in the day and age where the maximum activity kids get is swiping fingers on the screen, these books offer something far more hands-on. Also, strewn about the books are cheesy puns and inside jokes so that the journey becomes all the more fun. In some places you will be asked to write something, in others you will have to circle another.

Along with their signature road trips, BrownBoxToys also offers animal safaris, for kids between the ages of three to five. Our fave is the Sightseeing in Mumbai box. "With its end-to-end dominoes and flashcards, it actually reflects any big city in India. Because you'll spot the milkman, cows on the road, roadside vendors and all those typical sights one finds in cities," shares the alumna of Northwestern University, USA, who pursued her Master's in Economics from there. Even the India Maps box is unique. "We haven't marked every single city, that is the feature of every map. Instead, we have marked places we have something to say about. Like the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand. Also, I realised that books are a great way to introduce concepts like recycling, climate change, poverty and other issues. So the books subtly explore that as well," she shares.

Peru | (Pic: BrownBoxToys)

Clearly, a lot of R&D has been going on behind the scenes. That's why she has been working on the ideas since 2015, started small-scale in 2017 and it was in November this year that she started the portal. We can't wait to go on more trips with BrownBoxToys!

For more on them, check out brownboxtoys.com

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