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Tidy Books US

Putting books at the heart of your child’s world

  • Dogs, robots... and children's reading

    I’m all about finding ways to encourage children’s reading so I was intrigued to hear about an American research project that created a robot ‘book buddy’ to inspire kids to read.

    Minnie the robot was programmed so that as the children read aloud it made relevant comments – like ‘Oh, wow, I’m really scared’ when they got to a scary bit in the book. Minnie also made eye contact and small movements to replicate a real-life reading buddy. At the end of the two-week study , the children showed a high level of motivation to read along with positive benefits such as having a good understanding of the books and remembering more about them.

    childrens reading, children's reading, kids reading, reading therapy, reading therapy dogs, reading with robots, tidy books, independent reading All the joy of reading to yourself Photo @irina_pushko

    The researchers reckoned Minnie was successful because it acted as a non-judgemental children's reading partner. Having a robot to read to was fun and allowed the children to enjoy the simple act of reading without worrying about being corrected by an adult if they missed a word out or mispronounced something.

    It’s not the first research using non-human book buddies. In another American study youngsters who read aloud to dogs saw their reading skills improve by over 10% over ten weeks. Just like Minnie, the four-legged friends provided a relaxed environment where kids could make mistakes and carry on uncorrected.

    As parents, it’s easy to think the best way to help our kids become better readers is to put them right when they go wrong – but as these studies show when children are relaxed about reading they’re inspired to keep doing it. And the more they read the more they improve and the more their confidence grows.

    Frankly I’m glad that my kids didn’t have to resort to reading to a robot when they were growing up, but it’s good to know that if you spot your child curled up on the sofa with a book and the family cat they’re going to be just fine. 

    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. 


  • Less is more (and, yes, it might cost a bit more)

    Last night I was sitting reading a book and I realised my sofa was 20 years old. It’s as comfortable as it was when I bought it and still looks great in my lounge. I’ve never had the urge to buy a new one. I just don’t understand the desire to get rid of things before they’re broken or need replacing. I’m all about sustainability and longevity.

    Apparently our throwaway culture goes back to 1930s America when planned obsolescence’ products deliberately designed with a short lifespan – was used as a way to stimulate the economy after the Depression. People were encouraged to buy mass produced, disposable products that they didn’t actually need – and unfortunately, the idea stuck.

    sustainability; sustainable design; sustainable kids furniture; sustainable furniture; tidy books When less is more. Sustainable and timeless kids bookcases. Credit @nyearthur

    It’s the total opposite of what we do at Tidy Books, where everything is made with sustainability in mind. I don’t design to fit into a trend but focus on well made, timeless products that don’t date and can be passed down from sibling to sibling. I want our products to stay in your home – not end up in landfill.

    It surprises me when some people ask why our products are more expensive. When something seems cheaper maybe there’s a hidden cost like cheap factory labour or a cost to the environment such as the use of toxic lacquer. If you buy one thing that you cherish and that lasts, surely that makes more financial sense than buying something cheap and cheerful that soon gets chucked away for more of the same? One of our customers told us she’d had her bookcase for 15 years and it was still going strong. Quality costs less in the long run – and sustainable furniture costs the environment less too.

    I’ve always been quite eco-conscious and I’m not into buying something new just for the sake of getting the latest, trendiest model. I think that might be down to my upbringing – I was brought up in France by my grandparents, who were of a generation that never wasted anything and only bought what they needed. My appreciation of timeless quality was also instilled in me in my former job as a violin maker creating musical instruments that were designed to last for hundreds of years.

    I can’t guarantee that your Tidy Books product will last quite that long but it definitely covers my ethos – to buy one thing well and keep it!

    Do you look out for kids designs that offer sustainability?

    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.

  • Original design classics... and sausages!

    I love designs that help solve a problem or make life easier.  So as we’re celebrating our 15th birthday I thought I’d also celebrate three iconic designs that made a big difference to me when my kids were growing up.

    Time has flown since my three-year-old daughter’s struggle to find her favourite book inspired me to design a bookcase that made choosing books easier. That was the start of Tidy Books 15 years ago and ever since then I’ve been creating original designs that help children to become independent readers.

    Like a lot of mums, I’ll always remember my Maclaren pushchair. Forget the stress of trying to collapse your pushchair while holding onto a baby and shopping bags. Suddenly here was a lightweight, portable stroller that easily folded in on itself like an umbrella. It was revolutionary. And I love that it was designed by a former aviation engineer after he saw his daughter struggling with her pram. Like my bookcase, Maclaren’s iconic design – which is permanently on display at the Design Museum in London – was designed for a purpose and to be useful.

    iconic designs, original design, children's design, tidy books The iconic Maclaren buggy, invented in 1965. Photo: Maclaren

    The same ethos was behind the Stokke Tripp Trapp® high chair. Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik couldn’t find a high chair for his two-year-old son to sit at the table with the rest of his family – so he made one. I discovered the high chair when my son, Emile, was little and was so impressed by the thought that had gone into it. It was just the right height so I could pull the chair up to the table and have Emile with us when we were eating or sitting around chatting – which was brilliant for his development. What’s really clever about the Tripp Trapp® chair is that the seat and footplates are adjustable so it can be used all the way from baby stage to adulthood – hence being known as ‘a chair for life’. It looks lovely in the home, too, something I’ve always strived to achieve with my own Tidy Books original designs.

    Now sausages may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re designing a new product – but that’s exactly what inspired the iconic Micro scooter. Swiss banker Wim Ouboter had a favourite sausage shop that was a mile and a half from his office. The distance was too far to walk but not far enough away to bother getting the car out of the garage and parking. So he designed a scooter to get him there. It was definitely a hit in our household. With its robust design and two front wheels keeping the scooter stable, I was quite happy to let Emile whizz around on his, knowing he was safe while learning to enjoy the freedom of his own independent travel.

    The first, original Tidy Books bookcase which I made for my daughter Adele in 2004


    * So that’s three of my favourite design classics. What’s the iconic design that you love most?  

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furniture

    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.

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