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  • International Book Giving Day

    I’ve just read an incredibly sad statistic. Almost one in eight children in the UK has never received a book as a present, according to the National Literacy Trust. It’s upsetting to know that, for whatever reason, so many kids could be missing out on such a wonderful gift.

    As a parent, I’ve always bought books as presents for my kids. Over the years, giving them books has given me a great deal of joy as I’ve watched them unwrap their gift and excitedly open their new book. I’ve loved seeing them with their head buried in the pages, soaking up the pictures and words as they’ve got lost in the story.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children could be given the gift of a book to encourage and nourish their love of reading? Well, one fantastic initiative is working to help make that happen. Held every year on 14th February, International Book Giving Day was set up with the aim of getting a book to as many children as possible.

    book giving day, kids books, reading, Tidy Books Celebrate International Book Giving Day!

    What’s great is that it’s really easy to get involved. You can donate kids’ books to a charity, children’s hospital, hospice or refuge. You could pop one round to your neighbours’ kids. Or you might want to leave a book somewhere a child might find it, like a dentist’s waiting room. You could even make the gift really special by wrapping it up and adding a note.

    I love this idea – but of course, you don’t have to contain your book-giving to Valentine’s Day! Here at Tidy Books, we’re passionate about getting books to kids all year round, which is why on the first Friday of each month you can donate your quality books to us. We then pass on the books to the charity Give a Book, who give them to school breakfast clubs. If you live in the area why not pop your kids’ books into us – we’re at 10 Hatherley Mews, Walthamstow, London E17 4QP.

    * Are you giving someone a book this Valentine’s? Why not drop me a line and tell me about it. I’m excited about every single child that gets to experience the magic of books.

  • Emile’s book-buying adventure

    I’ve always loved buying books and it seems my 12-year-old son, Emile, has caught the bug, too. One day last week he went straight from school to spend some of his Christmas money at the local book shop. He took along a couple of his mates to help him choose and when he got home he proudly showed me the two Japanese Manga books he’d bought.

    Emile’s book-buying adventure made me smile. I loved the independence of him picking the books that he wanted without having an adult around. And the fact that he wanted to share the experience with his mates was very endearing – I could just picture them all in their school uniform browsing the bookshelves.

    Emile loves his new books and they’ve inspired him to get back into reading – something that, I hate to admit, had recently taken a backseat to his Playstation.

    For younger children, too, choosing their own books is a great way to foster independence and encourage reading. When I used to take Emile to the library I’d let him look at the shelves and pick his own books. I’d ask him what made him choose a particular book – was it because it had a colourful cover or featured his favourite animal or had a funny title. I found that understanding what he liked helped me to steer him towards similar books as well as encourage him to try different books to widen his reading.

    Of course I kept an eye on the books’ reading levels, but I wasn’t worried if the book seemed a little bit below or above his level. Even if a picture book was a bit easy it was still great for sparking his imagination and if it was a bit too hard for him then I’d read it to him or we’d read it together.  

    I think there’s something about children choosing their own books that gives them a real sense of independence. And independence was also something I really wanted to nurture with my Tidy Books bookcase. I designed the bookcase with front-facing shelves to make it really easy for small children to pick and choose their own books and put them back themselves. It was about giving kids ownership of their own little library and the confidence to use it.   

    Tidy Books. children, kids, bookcase, furniture, alphabet, reading, books Makes it easy for kids to pick up their books - The Tidy Books Bookcase!

    Judging by Emile’s book-buying trip, it seems that growing up with a Tidy Books bookcase helped to instil confidence and independence as well as a love of books. Mind you, having a bookaholic mum who’s always designing new products to encourage kids’ reading may also have had something to do with it!

    * What was the first book your child chose independently – and why? Drop me a line to let me know.

  • Two great kid’s books about managing life’s trickier moments

    We review two very different kid’s books that’ll give kids food for thought about navigating your way through a problem. ‘That’s NOT how you do it’ is a real-life scenario that many pre-schoolers will come across, and Home and Dry is a fantasy tale, where there is grave danger, but everything turns out alright in the end.

    That’s NOT how you do it!  Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar

    Lucy’s got the hang of the world, but when Toshi arrives, she’s astonished that he doesn’t know how to do things right, just like she does.  She can paint elephants, build a tower and eat with a fork.  Lucy’s friends ask her to help them to do things the right way.

    Toshi makes Lucy’s jaw drop.  Not only does he not eat with a fork, he builds a different type of tower,  and he can’t make a paper star just like Lucy’s.  And he doesn’t even ask for her help.  Eventually, Lucy’s frustration bursts out, and she tells Toshi that he’s got it all wrong.

    This sweet, light-touch story combines a pre-schooler’s certainty with the discovery that difference doesn’t equal wrong, and can be oodles of fun too.   It’s a story that shows sharing another culture’s traditions and practices has lots to offer.  

    kids book, children, reading, Tidy Books

    When Toshi gives Lucy a swan to match her paper stars, she learns that there’s more than one way to do things.  She gets the lesson too that she might not always be right.  She and Toshi become firm friends.

    This is a lovely read for pre-schoolers or reception age kids, who’re starting to make friends and discovering the world outside their families.  It’s a great way for children to celebrate their differences.

    The simple illustrations are colourful and engaging. That’s NOT how you do it will appeal to teachers, parents and kids, and Lucy’s very expressive face will make children giggle!    


    Home and Dry by Sarah L Smith

    Rain, rain and more rain is just what the Paddling family love.  But when summer arrives and dries up the water, they set off in search of somewhere to paddle, and that’s when the trouble starts.

    The Paddling family live on a tiny island and water is their lifeblood; they catch fish, teach swimming and the ferry delivers their food and mail.  While the wind and the rain cocoons them in their cozy home and lulls them to sleep every night.  

    When the sun comes out and dries up the water, the Paddlings no longer live on an island and they have nowhere to fish and nothing to sail their boat in.  They set off on a journey to find water, and unexpectedly, their long-lost uncle Bastian sets off a journey to find them.

    kids book, children, reading, Tidy Books

    As Uncle Bastian arrives at the Paddlings’ home, the rain lashes down and the tide rises.  Uncle Bastian can’t swim.  He’s swept away on the rising tide.   Will Uncle Bastian be rescued in time to make it home and dry?

    Home and Dry is a wistful and charmingly odd story.  The pleasure of this meandering book is the repetition of the ‘pitter patter’ and the ‘whoosh whoosh’ right through the story, giving it rhythm and atmosphere.  

    The illustrations have lovely detail which kids will enjoy; from hairy dogs in lifejackets to boats on wheels.  They’re reminiscent of Shirley Hughes’ books, who wrote classics such as Alfie and Dogger, and whose drawings pick out the cozy intimacies of family life that feel so familiar to kids

    Home and Dry is a perfect book to share by the fire on a rainy afternoon.

    Both books are published by Child’s Play International 2016 and were sent to us for review purposes. Child’s Play’s children’s books are renowned for celebrating life’s diversity.

  • Christmas is coming – and this year it’s personal!

    Are you getting stressed about Christmas gift buying? Well I think we’ve all been there. You start thinking about what presents to buy for friends and relatives but as soon as an idea pops into your head the anxiety sets in. What if it’s the wrong colour? What if it’s not really their thing? What if they hate it?   

    People can be so worried about getting it wrong they end up buying a ‘safe’ present like chocolates or giving vouchers or a gift card. The trouble with presents like that, though, is they’re not very exciting. For the person receiving the gift, it can be a real letdown when they tear off the wrapping paper and see what they’ve got. And it’s not great for the gift-giver either as they lose out on that lovely warm, satisfied glow of knowing they’ve bought something special with that person in mind.

    It actually makes giving and receiving presents rather joyless – and certainly doesn’t make a memorable gift to cherish. That’s why I think a personalised present is such a wonderful idea. For the recipient, it shows that your friend or family member has taken the time to pick something meaningful to you. And for the giver, it’s an opportunity to buy a unique gift that shows your thoughtfulness.

    Tidy Books, bookcase, kids, children, personal, furniture, reading Donnie loves his personalised Tidy Books bookcase!

    That was certainly the idea behind my Tidy Books personalised bookcases and bunk bed shelves. I wanted to put a smile on children’s faces when they saw their name in colourful wooden letters. And I wanted parents and grandparents to be able to buy a long-lasting gift that they could be proud of. It’s the sort of gift that really brings the giver and receiver together, I think.

    The personalised bookcases and bunk bed shelves make a great present for children aged 1-5. It’s like giving them their own little library that they can fill with their favourite books. And with their name on it, it will feel even more special. Of course, you can enjoy their present, too, watching the kids have fun tracing their fingers around the letters and getting to know the alphabet.

    I like to think that my personalised products will bring families lots of wonderful bonding moments and memories that will last for years. And that’s got to be better than a box of sweets and a voucher, hasn’t it?

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