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  • Montessori and Me

    ‘Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.’
    Dr Maria Montessori

    When my two children were tiny I remember watching them crawl around the house, slowly getting to know their territory. Bit by bit, their inquisitiveness took them further as they discovered new and exciting places around the house. As I hovered nearby, keeping a watchful eye, it was wonderful to see that sense of independence forming in my kids at such an early age.

    Letting children explore and learn on their own is something I’ve always felt strongly about.  And in that, I’m very much aligned with the Montessori way. Dr Maria Montessori’s philosophy was about allowing children to develop naturally and independently. She believed that children should be free to make their own discoveries and to learn for themselves by ‘doing’ and ‘experiencing’.

    My very first design, the Tidy Books bookcase, was made with that guiding principle in mind. I wanted kids to have their own special little library so they could pick out their favourite books whenever they wanted rather than having to wait until it was ‘time to read’. So many parents have told me that because of the bookcase their children are reading at every opportunity – which makes me really happy.

    montessori, montessori bookcase, tidy books, kids bookcase The Tidy Books Bookcase in Montessori colours

    The bookcase is also useful for learning the alphabet.  My daughter, Adèle, used to love pointing to the colourful letters and running her fingers around the tactile wooden shapes. There was nothing forced about her learning – she just did it gradually, in her own time, without me pushing her.

    From recent market research we’ve done here at Tidy Books, I know that many customers are interested in the Montessori way of teaching and would like to bring elements of it into their home. In response, my original bookcase will now also be available with the alphabet in Montessori colours – a simple colour scheme of blue for vowels and red for consonants. And the wooden letters are all lower case – which makes better sense to children as these are the predominant letters they see when they read.

    I love that I share so many values with the Montessori way of teaching. From the very beginning, I set out to design products that made sense to kids and would help to foster their sense of independence. I’ve watched my own children interact with all my Tidy Books designs and seen them grow up to become creative, self-sufficient adults. As a parent and businesswoman, that’s a pretty amazing achievement.

    * The new Montessori-inspired bookcase is available to pre-order now for delivery in early July.  Send an email to info@tidy-books.com with subject line 'Montessori' to claim yours. 

    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.

  • How to go from reluctant reader to bookworm in 40 books

    It’s a rather special kid’s book that can tempt the most reluctant reader to dip their toe in the water.  Beanstalk, the literacy charity which helps children’ who have fallen behind with their reading has handpicked 40 of the most engaging kid’s books to go into their Top 40 book packs for schools. For parents who’re looking for a handy list to kick start their child’s library, Beanstalk’s Top 40 is gold dust.

    We’ve been a longtime partner of Beanstalk, and are proud that Tidy Books has been able to support Beanstalk’s brilliant work in the nation’s primary schools.  We’re delighted too, that Beanstalk has chosen a Tidy Books kid’s bookcase to showcase their Top 40 kid’s books. As author of the ‘You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum’ series Andy Stanton says:

    “I've been told many times that 'Mr Gum' has helped to get young readers started and it never fails to give me goosebumps - what a privilege it is to write for children. My stories might be silly, but I take writing and reading very seriously and am absolutely delighted to be included in Beanstalk's starter pack.”

    kids books, reluctant reader, kids bookcase, tidy books, beanstalk, kids reading, kids literacy Beanstalk's Top 40 Books in a Tidy Books Bookcase

    Beanstalk’s Top 40 books are ideal for ages 3-10 and include classics like ‘Dear Zoo’ to more contemporary books like ‘Oi Frog’  They’ve been specially selected by the Beanstalk reading helpers who see firsthand how each book catches a child’s imagination, and with the help of children’s book expert Marilynn Brocklehurst of the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre.

    Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that recruits, vets, trains and supports volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading.  Beanstalk reading helpers work with children on a one-to-one basis, giving them their full attention and support to improve reading levels, increase overall confidence and inspire a lifelong love of reading. With Beanstalk's support the child's approach to learning and enjoying reading is often transformed.

    Whether you have a reluctant reader or a bookworm raring to go, then Beanstalk’s Book Top 40 could the perfect place to start your little reader’s journey into books, and build their very own library.   

    You can find the Beanstalk Top 40 book list  here https://www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk/Pages/Category/beanstalk-top-40

    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.

     

  • It’s time to swap quantity for quality

    It always amazes me that just when Christmas is over and you realise how much money you’ve spent on cards, presents, decorations and food the New Year sales come along. It’s hard not to be seduced by all those huge discounts – but, really, do we actually need more stuff?  Is it time to buy less and choose well?

    Don’t get me wrong – I love a bargain as much as the next person. If I spot something I’ve got on my list to buy and it’s reduced in price that’s a real bonus. But I’m not into buying things I don’t really want or need just because they’re on sale.

    I hate that over-buying contributes to so much waste. As you’ll have read in my last blog, I only ever give my children three Christmas presents (it’s sort of a French thing!) and hopefully they like them as much as they tell me they do. But according to one report, around 50% of Christmas gifts get binned within a year. Even more troubling, a survey last year found that one in ten unwanted Christmas presents will probably end up in landfill. That’s really bad news for our planet.

    Like a lot of people, I try to be eco-friendly and it’s certainly a big part of Tidy Books. I’ve never been interested in designing trendy products that quickly go out of fashion and are then disposed of to make room for the newest model. I recently had a customer who told me she’d had her Tidy Books bookcase for 15 years and that made me really happy. I love that my company makes timeless, well-made products that will never look dated or need to be replaced, so that our customers can buy less. Their longevity means they can be passed down to younger siblings, not thrown on the scrap heap.

    tidy books, bookcase, quality, buy less, kids furniture The Tidy Books Personalised bookcase. Photo credit Les Enfants a Paris

    “We still have our original Tidy Books - now at least 15 years old and only slightly the worse for wear having survived x 2 owners and x 2 long distance house moves!” Alison, one of the first Tidy Books customers

    I take the same eco approach to manufacturing . Everything in the Tidy Books range is made with sustainable, FSC-certified wood and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals.

    As a consumer myself, I’m careful about what I buy. It’s not that I forced myself to become a conscious shopper – it’s simply that once I understood how buying too much or buying the wrong things can affect the planet I lost my desire to over-consume. It really wasn’t difficult to shake off that ‘Buy, Buy, buy’ mentality, I just naturally started to shop differently, and I can buy less without worry.

    I think that when I buy less and choose better has made me a calmer, happier consumer. So, if you do spot me in the New Year sales, I’ll be the serene shopper looking for quality, not quantity – but, of course, still holding out for a bargain!

  • Toxin-free furniture that’s safe for your home

    Recently I’ve been reading a lot about indoor air pollution and am alarmed to discover that the air in our home can be five times more polluted than outside air. It’s down to VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds – which can be found in everything from air fresheners to new furniture. These VOCs are toxic pollutants that evaporate into the air and they’ve been associated with health problems such as allergies, asthma and respiratory disease.

    I have personal experience of VOCs. Not long after setting up Tidy Books I noticed a strong toxic smell coming from a new consignment of bookcases. I made enquiries and found out that the smell was caused by VOCs in the acrylic lacquer we used on our furniture. I was horrified. I was told that the bookcases should have been aired for longer in the factory before being sent out, but to me that wasn’t a solution. I didn’t want my workforce being exposed to VOCs and to be breathing in toxins.

    giftstofffrei, Wasserlack, umweltfreundlich, VOC, Tidy Books

    Once I’d heard about VOCs, I did more research and realised they could be harmful to my customers as well. There was absolutely no way I wanted anything to do with VOCs so I looked around for a safer alternative. That’s when I stopped using acrylic lacquer and replaced it with eco-friendly water lacquer, which emits hardly any VOCs.

    Now, reading about pollution in the home, I’m so glad Tidy Books furniture isn’t bringing in harmful pollutants and contributing to the problem.

    It’s funny how things work out, too, because switching to water lacquer had an unexpected bonus. The acrylic lacquer we used to use was so thick it completely covered the wood, leaving the furniture with an unnatural high-gloss finish that I always thought spoilt the look. With water lacquer, you can see the grain and all the lovely natural markings, allowing the wood to be the star it should be.

    I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the way things turned out. I couldn’t have continued my business using VOCs – now I design and manufacture furniture that doesn’t just look good in the home it’s also safe for you, our workers and the planet.

    * Interested in how we do things at Tidy Books? Find out more about our eco-friendly manufacturing

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