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The Tidy Books UK Blog

  • The A-Z of alphabet learning

    Do you remember learning the alphabet? I do. At school we got to know the letters by singing them to our teacher. It was such a fun way to learn and really helped me to become familiar with all the different letters of the alphabet.

    When it came to my daughter’s turn to learn the alphabet, she had a bit of extra help thanks to my Tidy Books bookcase.

    I designed the front-facing bookcase to make it easier for Adele – and other kids – to find the books they wanted. It also struck me that having colourful A to Z letters on the bookcase would help kids to learn their letters at the same time, so I added those as an option if customers wanted them.

    kids bookcase, kids book storage, front facing book display, alphabet bookcase, learning the alphabet Every opportunity to explore the alphabet: credit: Maman Floutch

    As a mum, it was lovely to watch Adele with her alphabet bookcase. She was able to build up her vocabulary gradually and casually by pointing to the bright wooden 3D letters and saying them out loud.

    When I designed the bookcase in 2004 it was an instant hit with Adele – and today it’s one of our best sellers. I did make one adjustment along the way, though. To begin with, the letters were in capitals but then I got chatting to a schoolteacher who told me that kids start by learning lower case letters. If you think about, with books that’s the letters kids see most and are the ones they become familiar with – so of course it made perfect sense for me to change the bookcase letters to lowercase.  

    Learning the alphabet is so important for the development of children’s reading and literacy. Once they’ve mastered the different letters and their sounds then they have the building blocks of language – and the wonderful world of books awaits them!

    I like the idea of making learning fun, so my bookcase can also be personalised. It’s a great way to get kids into the alphabet when they can learn how to recognise the letters of their name. And it ties in beautifully with my ethos of growing children’s independence and giving them their own domain in which to learn. I mean, what could be better than your own personal mini-library with your name on it?

    How do you help your kids learn the alphabet?

  • Is September the real New Year?

    What’s that sound I hear? Ah yes – it’s a collective sigh of relief as the kids go back to school after the summer holidays. It’s time to return to normality, or the nearest we can get to it anyway.  

    While kids are bound to be sad that it’s the end of their holiday, there’s usually a bit of new-term excitement about going back to school as well. They’ve got their shiny new shoes and pencil case and they’re ready to go! I have to say I’m feeling rather the same way.

    I love September. It’s a great time of year when the sun is still shining (well, maybe!) and you have the beautiful colours of autumn to look forward to. And post-holiday, I feel refreshed and ready to refocus – on friends, family, work, life. There’s a real sense of new beginnings and opportunities.  September is the new New Year !

    toy storage, toy box, sorting box, tidy books The Tidy Books Sorting Box is toy storage to blend with your living room

    And my house has been the first to benefit from my renewed attention. Over the holidays, with my children and their friends around so much I wasn’t particularly strict about them tidying things away. Now that they’re back at school, this laissez-faire attitude has been replaced and – while I can’t say that my home is perfectly clutter-free – there’s definitely more of an ordered calm.

    My secret weapon has been my Sorting Box. I designed this toy storage box to store things away in an orderly fashion – it has three compartments so you’re not just chucking everything into one big toy box then rooting around trying to find what you want. I made them for kids so they could separate their Lego bricks and toys and stuff, but they’re equally handy for older children and adults – in our house we use the Tidy Books Sorting Boxes to store magazines, books, DVDs, scarves, belts... you name it. So now, I’m happy to say, everything is back where it should be.

    And the beauty of the Sorting Boxes is that they don’t clutter up the place. I didn’t want a product that screamed ‘kids’  toy storage’ so I made them chic enough to display in your living space. You can have the boxes dotted around the house and they blend in beautifully. I’ll be honest, if my teenage daughter is happy to have a toy storage box in her room I know I must have done something right.

    So that’s me, basking in that ‘back to school’ glow and loving my new, less-cluttered – for now anyway! – home.   Are you planning to declutter this September?'

  • Stop the summer reading slump

    Schools out – and kids can’t get their uniforms off quick enough. With the summer holidays here they’ve got six whole weeks to relax and have fun, so doing anything remotely school-related will be the last thing on their mind now. Trouble is, when kids go back in September they’ve often forgotten some of the things they learned in class. It’s what teachers call the summer reading slump.

    One brilliant initiative to keep kids reading through the holiday is the Summer Reading Challenge run by the charity The Reading Agency. Once they’ve signed up at their local library, kids can take out six books to read over the summer and there are competitions, games and rewards to collect to keep them motivated, and stop the summer reading slump.

    You can help your kids with the challenge by letting them choose their own books. According to Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading report  9 out of 10 kids are more likely to finish a book that they’ve picked themselves. And as they’re allowed six books for their summer reading challenge, this is a good time for your kids to be free with their book choices – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books or whatever else takes their fancy.

    The Tidy Books Box puts books within easy reach of kids to help stop the summer reading slump The Tidy Books Box puts books in easy reach

    It’s all about making reading enjoyable for the kids while they’re away from school and not turning it into a task. But of course the books need to be accessible so kids don’t forget they’re there. You could put them in our Portable Book Box , which makes a handy mini-library that can be moved around the house. It can go with them into the garden or over to their grandparents’ house – even in the car to take on holiday.

    The box’s front-facing design means books can easily be identified by their covers, so kids won’t get impatient trying to find the one they want! It holds up to 40 books – plenty of room for all your kids’ books – and also comes with a play clock so they can have fun learning to tell the time as well.

    Kids deserve the summer off but reading doesn’t need to feel like homework. All they need is a little inspiration and they’ll soon see that reading a book at any time is fun!

    Happy summer reading everyone!

     

  • Kids know best

    When my daughter, Adele, was about four years old, it was clear that she had a will of her own. There was a determination about her that I’d first seen when she started crawling and she’d move around the house exploring her new territory. I loved watching her, staying close enough to keep an eye on her but far enough away to let her find her own way of negotiating things.

    As Adele grew up, I was proud to watch that strong-minded character develop, but not everyone was convinced. I could see people thinking ‘Hmmm, she’s going to be difficult.’ But they were wrong. That strong-willed girl has turned into an amazing 18-year-old who has a strong sense of independence and whose opinions I really value.

    As a mum, I let both my children explore their world without too much interference. Of course I made sure they were safe, but I felt it was important for them to have their own space to figure things out for themselves. In that respect, I followed the Montessori philosophy of allowing kids to develop naturally, giving them chance to learn by their own actions rather than through rigid instructions.

    Adele was the inspiration for the Tidy Books strapline ‘Kids know best’ (it was also a bit of a tongue-in-cheek play on ‘Mum knows best’). I truly believe that, when it comes to reading, children are able to make and develop their own book choices when they’re given the opportunity. That was my thinking behind my first design, the front-facing bookcase, because it allowed kids to pick out a book without the help of a parent. It gave kids their independence.

    Adele with the very first Tidy Books bookcase, made by Geraldine.

    My own belief is backed up by research that shows children should have more of a say in their own reading material. One American study found that kids whose parents were choosing their books were turned off reading. The findings also revealed that if a family were in a bookshop, a child would pick a book they thought their parents would want them to read. The conclusion was that kids like to discover books for themselves – and allowing them to make their own choices inspired them to read more.

    I totally agree. The whole ethos behind Tidy Books is to give kids a sense of independence so that they feel free to choose their own books. It widens not just their world of reading but also opens up the opportunity to make their own choices in life. Kids really do know best. Just ask Adele…

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