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Putting books at the heart of your child’s world

  • International Children’s Book Day

    It’s always great to discover people who are as passionate about kids and reading as I am and this month I’ve come across a brilliant Lithuanian children’s author who’s highlighting the calming power of books as part of International Children’s Book Day 

    Held annually in the first week of April, International Children’s Book Day is celebrated to inspire reading and to help bring attention to children’s books. Each year, a different country’s author is featured and this time around it’s children’s writer and illustrator Kęstutis Kasparavičius – who explains how books can slow us down.

    international children's book day; childrens books, children reading, tidy books Time slows down when you read a book. Image @mummyconstant

    ‘We live in the age of information overload, haste and rush. But if you take a book into your hands, you immediately feel a change. It seems that books have this wonderful quality – they help us slow down. As soon as you open a book and delve into its tranquil depths, you no longer fear that things will whizz by at a maddening speed while you see nothing.’

    That really rings true for me.  When I was young, whenever I was feeling anxious I could rely on reading a book to help me slow down my thoughts and feel calmer. And now, as an adult, once I’ve got my head in a book I can lose myself in the story and forget about the stresses of the day.

    Research shows a direct link between reading and mental health.

    One study showed that school-aged pupils who enjoyed reading were much more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who didn’t. But research by University College London found that children today are spending less time reading and more time on their screens – which is having an adverse effect on both their mental health and their literacy levels.

    Reading, says Kasparavičius, is the opportunity for kids to unplug from their phone or tablet and reconnect with what’s around them. ‘Books teach us to notice things. The universe of a book is wide open; it happily fuses reality with imagination and fantasy. Was it in a book or in reality that you were lying in the summer grass, or sitting with your legs crossed, watching clouds sail across the sky?’

    I love that sentiment. When children immerse themselves in a book, they discover different places, interesting characters and new situations – and that sparks their curiosity to learn more in the real world. As Kasparavičius concludes: ‘Someone who enjoys reading – be it a child or adult – is much more interesting than someone who doesn’t care for books, who is always racing against the clock, who never has time to sit down, who fails to notice much of what surrounds them.’ I couldn’t agree more.

    What will you be reading this month to celebrate International Children's Book Day?

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furnitureGeraldine 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.

  • Is your child’s name inspired by a book?

    Have you ever been so inspired by a book that you chose a literary name for your baby ? Apparently, when J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books were published there was a rise in babies named after her famous characters – Harry, Hermione, Luna (Lovegood) and even baddie Lucius (Malfoy). And whenever Disney brings a character to life on screen there’s a surge in names like Elsa, from Frozen, and Ariel from The Little Princess.

    Funnily enough, I gave both my children literary names – only in my case they were inspired by the authors themselves. My daughter Adèle is named after Adèle Hugo, daughter of Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s also a shortened version of Adelaïde, a character from a series of novels written by Émile Zola – who’s my favourite author. Not surprisingly, I called my son Émile.

    literary baby names, baby names, literary names, tidy books, literary characters, children's names Adele and Emile: Inspired by literary characters

    As an avid reader in my teens, I always knew that if I had children I’d name them after my favourite authors. I loved reading stories and I loved the idea of there being a story behind my children’s names. It felt significant and special.

    I could never have predicted then that I would grow up to run a business related to children’s books, but I guess it makes sense really. I’m passionate about getting kids excited about reading – which is why our book case and book box can be personalised with your children’s names. It’s a way of giving them their own little story and making them feel special, too.

    Going back to my own children, I’m lucky that my husband, Matthew, agreed with the names I chose. Though I must admit that while he was instantly taken with the idea of a daughter called Adèle, he wasn’t so sure about ‘Émile’ at first. But then, when the mid-wife asked us what we were calling our new-born son, Matthew instantly said ‘Émile’. To which – to my surprise – the midwife replied, ‘Oh, after Émile Zola?’

    You see – it’s a lovely story, isn’t it?

    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.


  • Should you KonMari your kids’ books?

    So who went a little declutter crazy last month? January is traditionally the time of year when many of us have a bit of a clear out when we’re packing away the Christmas decorations. But while you were dispatching those unwanted items to the loft or local charity shop did you ‘KonMari’ your kids’ books too?

    In case you didn’t know, ‘KonMari’ is the method devised by Japanese declutter guru Marie Kondo. And her recent Netflix TV series, ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’, caused a bit of an outcry when it showed Kondo helping two people lose a sizeable chunk of their book collections. Get rid of books? Many book lovers couldn’t believe Kondo could suggest such an outrageous thing!

    kon marie, kon mari kids books, marie kondo, tidy up, kids books, kids bookcases Should you Kon Mari your kids books?. Photo @totaleve

    Well when it comes to children’s books, I think less is more. It can be overwhelming if kids have too many books – they’ll spend half their reading time trying to decide which one to pick. And if the books are crammed onto a bookshelf with only their spine showing it makes choosing even harder. It’s exactly why our book case is front facing – kids can see the book covers to help them decide.

    The Tidy Books bookshelf holds up to 85 books – which might not go down well with Marie Kondo, who has scaled her books down to just 30 – but it’s small and slimline so it doesn’t hog room space. And the thing is, you don’t have to fill it with 85 books. When my kids were growing up, I let them keep out a small selection of books at a time so they could get familiar with the ones they had. I put the rest of their books away in the cupboard then every couple of months I’d rotate their collection so they had a whole lot of new books to enjoy.

    I think Marie Kondo would approve. When challenged over the book decluttering issue, Kondo explained that if the thought of getting rid of a book made you angry, then of course you should keep it. Her mantra? ‘If a book sparks joy for you – keep it with confidence.’ And that’s definitely something we agree on!

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