I was interested to see that in December the restaurant chain Frankie & Benny’s ran a ‘No Phone Campaign’ to make family meal times more sociable. They invited customers to pop their phones into a box on the table during their meal, with the incentive of free kids’ meals for diners who took part. It was a brilliant idea, I thought, and one that I’d love to see other restaurants take up – not just as a one-off campaign but as a permanent thing.
It got me thinking about other ways to keep kids away from their phones and iPads during a family meal out. It would be great to have a book corner – a small space in a restaurant or cafe where kids could choose a book and take it back to the table. It can be tricky to entertain kids in restaurants, which is why it’s tempting to plug them into a screen – but it would be so much easier if there was a selection of exciting new books to grab their attention. Between courses, kids could read to their parents – or for younger children they could look at the pictures while their parents read to them. Discovering new books and characters would provide brilliant conversations with your burger and chips!
A book corner would be easy to put in. The Tidy Books bookcase holds up to 85 books but its super-slim design means it takes up very little space. It’s also been designed so the books face forwards, making it simple for kids to spot the one they want to take off the shelf. Then there’s our book box – it also has a front-facing design, with enough room for 40 books. It’s portable, too, so it can be moved around to wherever there’s space as well as taken outside – which is pretty handy for summer evenings in the pub garden.
While it’s on my mind, a book corner would also be really useful in waiting rooms to keep the kids occupied while you’re hanging around for a GP or dentist appointment. And wouldn’t it be great for a book corner to keep your kids entertained while you’re having your hair or nails done? Some child-friendly salons have TVs and DVDs but I like the idea of kids getting away from the screen and absorbing themselves in a book. You get a lovely new hair cut, your kids get an exciting new world to explore between the covers – sounds like a win-win situation to me!
How do you entertain kids in restaurants?
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.