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  • 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.

     

  • 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.

     

  • Will you still be reading aloud to your teenager?

    I loved reading aloud to my children when they were growing up. To curl up with a book and watch their inquisitive faces as I shared a story with them was such a joy. I’m sure you have that same warm, contented feeling when you read to your kids, too.

    I have to say that when my kids got older and started reading on their own it was both a proud and sad time. It was wonderful seeing them progress onto chapter books, relying less on me for reading duties and happily losing themselves in a book on their own. But once they had become independent readers, I knew my time as Chief Storyteller was over. Or so I thought.

    reading aloud, kids reading, tidy books, kids bookcases Reading aloud together. Photo credit @_francescasantini_  Three Little Pigs blog

    The other day I met a mum who is still reading aloud to her 13-year-old. How brilliant is that? She and her son share an interest in history and when he started reading a history book that had been recommended by his teacher he suggested his mum read it as well. So she said ‘Well maybe we could read it together.’

    You’d think that hanging out with his mum reading would be the last thing a young teen would want to do but her son thought it was a great idea. So in the evening, before his bedtime, they sit on the sofa taking it in turns to read the book out loud to one another. And they both love it.

    A few years ago, research by the children’s publisher, Scholastic, found that three-quarters of parents were reading aloud to their kids when they were aged 5 or under, but that number tailed off as kids grew older. Only 20% of the parents surveyed read to their 9-11 year olds. What’s really sad is that around one-third of those older children said they’d wanted their parents to continue reading to them.

    When your child starts growing up you assume there are some ‘uncool’ things they won’t want to do anymore. But the reality can be so different. The mum I met likens reading a book with her son to watching a TV documentary together. They can discuss the subject, ask each other questions and enjoy the experience of learning together. She really loves that they can share their curiosity about the world through their love of reading.

    She says that reading aloud together is a natural activity for the two of them and that it’s lovely spending quality time with her son – which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy to achieve with a teen! Of course not every teenager wants to read with their parents – but it might just be that yours does. You never know until you ask... so I’m going to wrestle the Xbox away from my 14-year-old and find out...

    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.

  • The books you choose give a child a message

    "If you're reading this blog to be told what books to choose for your child, I'm sorry, I can't do that. "  - Rachel.    

    Rachel writes from literacy charity Beanstalk and is our guest blogger.

    Tidy Books supports Beanstalk, the national literacy charity which places volunteers in schools to read one to one with children who've fallen behind with their reading.  Our recent competition was designed to help Beanstalk create a reading corner and help volunteers encourage a reluctant child to fall in love with books. Rachel tells us how the reading volunteers work their magic...

    Only someone who knows your child can do that. That's why our volunteers begin by getting to know their children using games, discussions and, yes, books. Books like 'Charlie Cook's Favourite Book' by Julia Donaldson, 'You Choose' by Pipps Goodhart and 'ABC UK' by James Dunn. Once you've begun to know the child, you can begin to choose their book.

    One of our volunteers was allocated to a child who was one of twin sisters. "She can read well but she lives in her sister's shadow" the teacher told him. He chose 'Double Act', a Jacqueline Wilson novel in which a shy twin finds her voice. It wasn't necessary for the volunteer to spell out the similarities between the fictional Garnet and the girl reading about her. He simply introduced the right book and watched it work its magic.

    beanstalk, reading, reading aloud, tidy books, books A Beanstalk volunteer is reading one to one with a child

    In Allan Bennet's 'The History Boys', a teacher tells his pupil "The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours." This empathy drives adults to read, and by choosing a book with which a child can empathise, you enable a child to experience that too.

    The books you choose give the child a message about you

    Lots of the children our volunteers see can't tell us what sort of books they like. They don't have the vocabulary to categorise genres and can't call to mind any hobbies or interests, so asking multiple choice questions leads to disjointed conclusions like "So you'd like a book about Chelsea FC, Romans and magic?!" But don't give up. Imagine the message you give to the child when you return with 'Frankie versus the Rowdy Romans' by Frank Lampard! You've listened to the child. You've puzzled over their words, sought recommendations from wizened book people and been on a quest to your local bookshop or library or Beanstalk reading corner and returned with something precious: a book just for that child. Now they have incontrovertible proof that they matter to you.

    There is a Beanstalk legend about a particularly well-to-do volunteer - the sort of lady who reads 'The Lady' - you know the sort I mean. She was allocated a boy who was interested in one thing: wrestling. The next day when she popped into the corner shop she gave the friendly news agent the shock of his career by calmly requesting her copy of 'The Lady' and a WWF magazine: ("no sir, not World Wildlife Fund, World Wrestling Federation!") You can imagine the effect it had on the chid. He spent half an hour twice a week teaching his volunteer all about wrestling, barely noticing how his reading became more fluent week by week. By going out of your way to choose a book which is personal to the child, you send them a message that they matter.

    beanstalk, reading, reading aloud, tidy books, books Beanstalk supports children who've fallen behind with their reading

    The books you choose give the child a message about your relationship

    Much of what children do in schools is compulsory, and rightly so; it prevents gaps in their learning and develops their work ethic. But in order to instil a love of reading for pleasure we offer something tangibly different to work. That's why many Beanstalk volunteers begin their session by spreading out anything from three to twenty books across the table. "What do you want to read today?" they ask.

    In their first session together, one volunteer used a multiple choice personality quiz to get to know her child. 'Are you a Horrid Henry or a Perfect Peter?' asked the title. The child smiled when he read the answers about pulling pranks, but consistently chose the options which revealed him to be a compliant 'Perfect Peter' type. For the next several months of reading together, the child was allowed to choose the books and games himself. Even when he stumbled over a word the volunteer told him what a great effort he'd made and helped him work it out correctly. One day he chose the Horrid Henry book and turned back to the quiz. This time his answers were different. Knowing now that there was no risk of judgement or criticism from his volunteer, he expressed a mischievous sense of humour more like Henry's than Peter's! By offering a choice of appropriate books, the volunteer had given the child the message that, regardless of is choices, she would accept him unconditionally.

    Beanstalk volunteers see children who have never experienced the empathy of reading, never had someone take the time to choose a book just for them or never been given the unconditional freedom to choose a book themselves. The right book is important because of the messages it gives, whether a child is receiving those messages for the first or the millionth time. And that will be much easier when books on offer are displayed in a logical, original and stylish way.

     Rachel provides support and advice to Beanstalk reading volunteers, who in turn deliver tailored, ‘one-to-one’ sessions to hundreds of children in primary schools across London.   

    Thank you to everyone who entered our recent competition with Beanstalk to win a Tidy Books Bookcase and help Beanstalk create a reading corner for their reading volunteers.  We couldn't have done it without you!

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