We received a sweet box in the mail the other day. Perfectly sized and illustrated with a sweet little manatee drawing. Inside were 3 beautiful board books with an outdoorsy theme – including one featuring illustrations by the amazing Charley Harper whose 1960s era science book artwork is getting some acclaim right now. The books were lovely and well received by our resident pre-schooler.

But the box was kind of cool too. In order to bring back the old idea that the box is as much fun as the contents, this box came with “instructions” for use. Ideas for making robots or other fun box creations, corn starch packing peanuts that could be used for building and drawings to be colored in and used for the aforementioned box creations.

The idea comes from Blue Manatee Boxes, a little independent bookstore in Ohio. Started by a pediatrician, the idea is a return to basics and the idea too that in this age of fast paced learning and high tech toys, what’s old, such as a cardboard box, can be new again. And used by kids for imaginative play.

If you know of some household that could use a little creative inspiration, not to mention some really beautiful books which can be purchased by such themes as art, eco, baby, birthday or love, The Blue Manatee Boxes are pretty sweet. And might just inspire some good play on a hot summer day.

And if you aren’t in the market for books right now, I hope this post inspires you to look at the next cardboard box you receive with a more imaginative eye.