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  • Win £100 towards your child's new bedroom with Room to Grow

    Looking for your child's next 'big kid' bed?  WIN a £100 Room to Grow voucher towards your child's bedroom makeover.  We've teamed up with children's bedroom furniture specialists, Room to Grow to bring you this fab competition.

    To enter, hop on to Tidy Books' Facebook page.

    Don't miss it, the competition to win this £100 Room to Grow voucher ends Sunday 19th November!

    kids, furniture, bunk bed, bunk bed buddy, tidy books, win, competition Room to Grow's Ollie and Leila range with Tidy Books Bunk Bed Buddy

    Full terms and conditions for Tidy Books competition with Room to Grow

    1. This giveaway is not associated in any way with Facebook or Instagram.
    2. Prize is £100 Room to Grow voucher to spend on Room to Grow's website
    3. Winners will be contacted by direct message on Facebook
    4. Entries will only be deemed valid if a valid Facebook profile is used.
    5. The winners will be selected at random from all valid entries received by the deadline stated on the competition.
    6. The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
    7. The winner’s names will be published on the Tidy Books Facebook page
    8. Data collected will only be shared between Tidy Books and the competition partner. This information will not be shared with any third party
    9. The competition will close at midnight on Sun 19th November 2017.
    10. The winner will be announced within 1 week of the closing date.
    11. If the winner cannot be contacted within 48 hours of  the closing date, the team reserve the right to re-draw for a winner.
    12. Delivery to mainland UK only.
    13. Entry is free and no purchase is necessary.
  • Is September the real New Year?

    What’s that sound I hear? Ah yes – it’s a collective sigh of relief as the kids go back to school after the summer holidays. It’s time to return to normality, or the nearest we can get to it anyway.  

    While kids are bound to be sad that it’s the end of their holiday, there’s usually a bit of new-term excitement about going back to school as well. They’ve got their shiny new shoes and pencil case and they’re ready to go! I have to say I’m feeling rather the same way.

    I love September. It’s a great time of year when the sun is still shining (well, maybe!) and you have the beautiful colours of autumn to look forward to. And post-holiday, I feel refreshed and ready to refocus – on friends, family, work, life. There’s a real sense of new beginnings and opportunities.  September is the new New Year !

    toy storage, toy box, sorting box, tidy books The Tidy Books Sorting Box is toy storage to blend with your living room

    And my house has been the first to benefit from my renewed attention. Over the holidays, with my children and their friends around so much I wasn’t particularly strict about them tidying things away. Now that they’re back at school, this laissez-faire attitude has been replaced and – while I can’t say that my home is perfectly clutter-free – there’s definitely more of an ordered calm.

    My secret weapon has been my Sorting Box. I designed this toy storage box to store things away in an orderly fashion – it has three compartments so you’re not just chucking everything into one big toy box then rooting around trying to find what you want. I made them for kids so they could separate their Lego bricks and toys and stuff, but they’re equally handy for older children and adults – in our house we use the Tidy Books Sorting Boxes to store magazines, books, DVDs, scarves, belts... you name it. So now, I’m happy to say, everything is back where it should be.

    And the beauty of the Sorting Boxes is that they don’t clutter up the place. I didn’t want a product that screamed ‘kids’  toy storage’ so I made them chic enough to display in your living space. You can have the boxes dotted around the house and they blend in beautifully. I’ll be honest, if my teenage daughter is happy to have a toy storage box in her room I know I must have done something right.

    So that’s me, basking in that ‘back to school’ glow and loving my new, less-cluttered – for now anyway! – home.   Are you planning to declutter this September?'

  • Kids know best

    When my daughter, Adele, was about four years old, it was clear that she had a will of her own. There was a determination about her that I’d first seen when she started crawling and she’d move around the house exploring her new territory. I loved watching her, staying close enough to keep an eye on her but far enough away to let her find her own way of negotiating things.

    As Adele grew up, I was proud to watch that strong-minded character develop, but not everyone was convinced. I could see people thinking ‘Hmmm, she’s going to be difficult.’ But they were wrong. That strong-willed girl has turned into an amazing 18-year-old who has a strong sense of independence and whose opinions I really value.

    As a mum, I let both my children explore their world without too much interference. Of course I made sure they were safe, but I felt it was important for them to have their own space to figure things out for themselves. In that respect, I followed the Montessori philosophy of allowing kids to develop naturally, giving them chance to learn by their own actions rather than through rigid instructions.

    Adele was the inspiration for the Tidy Books strapline ‘Kids know best’ (it was also a bit of a tongue-in-cheek play on ‘Mum knows best’). I truly believe that, when it comes to reading, children are able to make and develop their own book choices when they’re given the opportunity. That was my thinking behind my first design, the front-facing bookcase, because it allowed kids to pick out a book without the help of a parent. It gave kids their independence.

    tidy books, bookcase, montessori, get kids reading, kids furniture Adele with the very first Tidy Books bookcase, made by Geraldine.

    My own belief is backed up by research that shows children should have more of a say in their own reading material. One American study found that kids whose parents were choosing their books were turned off reading. The findings also revealed that if a family were in a bookshop, a child would pick a book they thought their parents would want them to read. The conclusion was that kids like to discover books for themselves – and allowing them to make their own choices inspired them to read more.

    I totally agree. The whole ethos behind Tidy Books is to give kids a sense of independence so that they feel free to choose their own books. It widens not just their world of reading but also opens up the opportunity to make their own choices in life. Kids really do know best. Just ask Adele…

  • 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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