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  • 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.

  • 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

    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.


  • Why reading is the fastest way to boost your mental health

    Don’t you just love how reading can lift your spirits? I’ve usually got a book on the go but during the occasional reading drought, when I’ve been too busy to stock up on new books, I really notice how it affects how I feel. Reading helps to take me out of my own ‘me, me, me’ world into a wonderful new, magical world and, to be honest, without it I soon feel myself slipping into a low mood.

    So I’m really pleased to hear that the theme of this year’s World Book Night on 23rd April is how reading benefits mental health. The annual event, run by national charity The Reading Agency  helps to get books to people who don’t read for pleasure or who don’t own their own books. Publishers donate books which are then gifted to prisons, hospitals, care homes and mental health charities – and among the books being donated this year will be ones that explore mental health and wellbeing.

    reading benefits mental health, charity, give a book, tidy books, kids reading Simply reading can help kids boost mental health. Photo credit Give A Book

    There has been lots of research about the benefits of reading for mental health, including increasing self-esteem, improving communication between parents and children and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. In one study, reading for just six minutes was found to decrease stress levels by 68% amazingly it’s a quicker and more effective stress buster than going for a walk or listening to music! 

    I totally understand the power of books and how reading benefits mental health. When I was a child, I remember going through periods of anxiety when books were a real solace to me. Whatever was happening around me, I could completely lose myself in a story and it calmed and comforted me. With a book by my side, it felt like everything was going to be OK.

    With one in ten children and young people affected by mental health problems – that’s three out of every 30 in a classroom – isn’t it incredible to think that something as simple as reading a book could help them?

    From my own experience – as a child and now as an adult – I know how truly uplifting reading can be.

    * Tidy Book holds a monthly collection for children’s books that we donate to Give a Book for distribution to schools and prison. For details, please contact us on 020 8520 4647

    geraldine grandidier, tidy books

    Geraldine 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.


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