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The Tidy Books UK Blog

Welcome to our blog. A place where I, Gèraldine Grandidier, founder and designer of Tidy Books will share thoughts, ideas and updates with you. I hope you enjoy reading and browsing through my posts!

  • Should you KonMari your kids’ books?

    So who went a little declutter crazy last month? January is traditionally the time of year when many of us have a bit of a clear out when we’re packing away the Christmas decorations. But while you were dispatching those unwanted items to the loft or local charity shop did you ‘KonMari’ your kids’ books too?

    In case you didn’t know, ‘KonMari’ is the method devised by Japanese declutter guru Marie Kondo. And her recent Netflix TV series, ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’, caused a bit of an outcry when it showed Kondo helping two people lose a sizeable chunk of their book collections. Get rid of books? Many book lovers couldn’t believe Kondo could suggest such an outrageous thing!

    kon marie, kon mari kids books, marie kondo, tidy up, kids books, kids bookcases Should you Kon Mari your kids books?. Photo @totaleve

    Well when it comes to children’s books, I think less is more. It can be overwhelming if kids have too many books – they’ll spend half their reading time trying to decide which one to pick. And if the books are crammed onto a bookshelf with only their spine showing it makes choosing even harder. It’s exactly why our book case is front facing – kids can see the book covers to help them decide.

    The Tidy Books bookcase holds up to 85 books – which might not go down well with Marie Kondo, who has scaled her books down to just 30 – but it’s small and slimline so it doesn’t hog room space. And the thing is, you don’t have to fill it with 85 books. When my kids were growing up, I let them keep out a small selection of books at a time so they could get familiar with the ones they had. I put the rest of their books away in the cupboard then every couple of months I’d rotate their collection so they had a whole lot of new books to enjoy.

    I think Marie Kondo would approve. When challenged over the book decluttering issue, Kondo explained that if the thought of getting rid of a book made you angry, then of course you should keep it. Her mantra? ‘If a book sparks joy for you – keep it with confidence.’ And that’s definitely something we agree on!

    geraldine grandidier, tidy booksGeraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • I’ll have the burger – with a book on the side

    I was interested to see that in December the restaurant chain Frankie & Benny’s ran a ‘No Phone Campaign’ to make family meal times more sociable. They invited customers to pop their phones into a box on the table during their meal, with the incentive of free kids’ meals for diners who took part. It was a brilliant idea, I thought, and one that I’d love to see other restaurants take up – not just as a one-off campaign but as a permanent thing.

    It got me thinking about other ways to keep kids from plugging into their phones and iPads when they’re enjoying a family meal out. It would be great to have a book corner – a small space in a restaurant or cafe where kids could choose a book and take it back to the table. Between courses, kids could read to their parents – or for younger children they could look at the pictures while their parents read to them. Discovering new books and characters would provide brilliant conversations with your burger and chips!

    entertain kids in restaurants, book corner, reading corner, eating out with kids, How to entertain kids without screens. Picture credit Family Nation

    A book corner would be easy to put in. The Tidy Books bookcase holds up to 85 books but its super-slim design means it takes up very little space. It’s also been designed so the books face forwards, making it simple for kids to spot the one they want to take off the shelf. Then there’s our book box – it also has a front-facing design, with enough room for 40 books. It’s portable, too, so it can be moved around to wherever there’s space as well as taken outside – which is pretty handy for summer evenings in the pub garden.  

    While it’s on my mind, a book corner would also be really useful in waiting rooms to keep the kids occupied while you’re hanging around for a GP or dentist appointment. And wouldn’t it be great for a book corner to keep your kids happy while you’re having your hair or nails done? Some child-friendly salons have TVs and DVDs but I like the idea of kids getting away from the screen and absorbing themselves in a book. You get a lovely new hair cut, your kids get an exciting new world to explore between the covers – sounds like a win-win situation to me!

    How do you entertain kids in restaurants?

    geraldine grandidier, tidy booksGeraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world. 

  • Giving the gift of reading, from prison

    “Shows I need to sit down and read more to my kids. Good to give to the kids and they’ll enjoy it.”  Storybook Dad

    Our guest blogger, Olivia Loveridge of charity Give A Book talks about their work to give the gift of reading to disadvantaged families. 

    At Give a Book, our aim is to give books where they can really make a difference. We work mainly with schools & prisons and are working more than ever on family reading initiatives in prisons. The importance of family contact for both prisoners and their families is well-recognised and shared reading is a great way for families to stay connected.

    One of the projects we support is Storybook Dads, a charity which allows fathers in prison to record stories to send to their children.

    Give a Book now supply corresponding books to be sent with these story discs, so that children can not only watch and hear their parent read to them but can read along too.

    gift of reading, tidy books, charity, give a book Story Book Dads project connects dads in prison with their children through stories

    It makes life easier for the little one at bedtimes. It's as though they’re reading to him, he really loves his stories and it helped all of us. Thank you for this opportunity to bond with my family.”

    This year we also piloted a new Family reading initiative, Making It Up, at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. Leading up to a prison family visit day, fathers took part in workshops where they learnt about the importance of reading with their children, different types of stories, and created their own storybook for their children.

    On the day, families who came into the prison watched and listened to author and illustrator Chris Riddell as he sketched and read out loud from his new book. We plan to repeat the project in more prisons next year, following wonderful comments like these from the families who took part:

    “Could have written more…Something for [my child] to take back. Really good.”

    “Shows I need to sit down and read more to my kids. Good to give to the kids and they’ll enjoy it.”

    gift of reading Give a Book's family reading projects with dads in prisons

    If you'd like to give the gift of reading this year, find out more about more about Give a Book’s projects, please have a look at our website.  If you would like to make a donation to support our work, you can do so here.

    Thanks to Give a Book for their guest post, and thanks to everyone who's supported their work through the Tidy Books E17 Kid's Book Drops, which we host on a weekly basis in our East London office.   If you'd like to give the gift of reading to another family this year, donate quality children's books at our offices for Give a Book's collection, or make a donation to Give a Book

  • What does “giving the gift of reading” mean at Beanstalk?

    For us, giving the gift of reading goes beyond giving somebody a book for Christmas. Because what is the value of a book when you can’t read it? In England almost 25% of children leave primary school without being able to read at the expected level. This can often lead to a child falling behind at secondary school and entering adulthood without those vital skills. So for us, the gift of reading is rewriting that story for children at risk of falling behind due to poor literacy skills and encouraging them to discover the wonderful world of books.

    We recruit, train and place volunteers to support children aged 3-13 with their reading skills and to encourage them to become confident readers. As one child said “[Beanstalk] helped me find the fun in reading”.  Tidy Books is a long-term supporter of Beanstalk and donate regularly towards the work we do, helping us to create a new story for children at risk of falling behind.

    give the gift of reading, giving the gift of reading, tidy books, charity, kids literacy, beanstalk Beanstalk's work with children gives the gift of reading

    This Christmas we want to make it even easier for individuals to help Beanstalk give the gift of reading. We have beautiful Christmas cards, illustrated by Steve Anthony, author of ‘The Queen’s Hat’, for you to purchase and give to your loved ones. Each card comes with a choice of donation to help give the gift of reading to a child this Christmas: £30 will support a child for one month, £60 for one term and £189 for one academic year. To find out more about purchasing a Christmas card, take a look at our website.

    give the gift of reading, giving the gift of reading, beanstalk, charity, literacy Beanstalk's Christmas Card

    If you’re looking for more ways to give the gift of reading this Christmas, we’re also running a Secret Santa Book Swap. Instead of panic buying another mug(!) why not swap one of your favourite books from your collection and donate to Beanstalk? You’ll get a great book to read and in turn will be supporting a child in discovering the wonder of reading! £10 could buy John in HR a pair of socks – or it could support a child with 3 sessions of reading support. Sorry, John.

    We’re kicking off our Christmas campaigns on the 27th of November for #GivingTuesday with #BeanstalkBeanieDay. So pop on a beanie hat, tweet a photo and text “BEAN27 £2” to 70070 to show your support!

    For more information on how to give the gift of reading this Christmas, take a look at our website.

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