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  • Win a prize book bundle with Child's Play International

    Join in our Christmas Advent competition to build your own kid's book bundle, with our friends at Child's Play (International) Ltd You choose the books to go into your prize book bundle.

    Enter the competition here on the Tidy Books Facebook Page

    childs play, childrens books, book, kids books, prize A Bear Hug at Bedtime

    Full terms and conditions for Tidy Books competition with Child's Play International

    This giveaway is not associated in any way with Facebook or Instagram.
    Prize is 8 books from Child's Play International
    Winners will be contacted by direct message on Facebook
    Entries will only be deemed valid if a valid Facebook profile is used.
    The winners will be selected at random from all valid entries received by the deadline stated on the competition.
    The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
    The winner’s names will be published on the Tidy Books Facebook page
    Data collected will only be shared between Tidy Books and the competition partner. This information will not be shared with any third party.
    Open to to UK residents over 18.The competition will close at midnight on Fri 22nd December at 5pm
    The winner will be announced on Wednesday 3rd January, and delivery of the prize will take place thereafter.
    If the winner cannot be contacted within 48 hours of the closing date, the team reserve the right to re-draw for a winner.
    Delivery to mainland UK only.
    Entry is free and no purchase is necessary.

  • A new library for Beanstalk, for Giving Tuesday

    We asked you to help Beanstalk, the children's reading charity, create a welcoming library.  Giving Tuesday,  28th November, is the perfect day to show you what you gave!

    Every person who entered our competition earlier this year helped us donate a Tidy Books product to Beanstalk's library. The library is used by reading volunteers to pick out books they think that children will enjoy. Making the books more accessible is key to helping volunteers find the perfect book to encourage a reluctant reader.

    The volunteers love their new book corner, saying: “a vast improvement”; “such a neat, clean design”; “shelves fit so perfectly”; “you could have done with these years ago!”

    Beanstalk, books, childrens books, charity the before picture - Beanstalk's library of children's books which are hard to find!

    When we visited the Beanstalk offices earlier in the year, we discovered this treasure trove of kid's books and games. But, it must have been incredibly difficult to find a book at all!
    Getting the right book builds rapport with a child who is struggling with their reading.  Beanstalk's reading volunteers go into schools to read one to one with children, and help them  build their love of books.    So finding the right book to engage with every child is very important.

    Beanstalk’s reading helpers meet a child once a week, away from the classroom to read or play a game.  For many children this is often the only time during the week when they are given options, asked their opinions, and able to enjoy quality one-to-one time with a consistent adult role model.  Beanstalk's aim is to reach 18,000 children by 2018.

    So, we were delighted to help the Beanstalk team create this library to help their reading volunteers.

    beanstalk, tidy books, charity, reading, books, children, kids Beanstalk's new book corner created with Tidy Books

    The Beanstalk team told us
    "The units have helped transform our book corner into an attractive, practical space. Being able to see the front-facing books easily draws people in to look at them and brightens the whole area by throwing out more images and colours.

    We're proud to have been in partnership with Beanstalk since 2014.  With every product that we sell online, we donate a portion of that sale to help Beanstalk ensure that every child becomes a reader.

    From Beanstalk and from us at Tidy Books: 'Thank you!'

  • 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?

  • 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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