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About Tidy Books

  • The A-Z of alphabet learning

    Do you remember learning the alphabet? I do. At school we got to know the letters by singing them to our teacher. It was such a fun way to learn and really helped me to become familiar with all the different letters.

    kids bookcase, kids book storage, front facing book display, alphabet bookcase, learning the alphabet Every opportunity to explore the alphabet: credit: Maman Floutch

    When it came to my daughter’s turn to learn the alphabet, she had a bit of extra help thanks to my Tidy Books bookcase. I designed the front-facing bookcase to make it easier for Adele – and other kids – to find the books they wanted.

    It also struck me that having colourful A to Z letters on the bookcase would help kids to learn their letters at the same time, so I added those as an option if customers wanted them.

    As a mum, it was lovely to watch Adele with her bookcase. She was able to build up her vocabulary gradually and casually by pointing to the bright wooden 3D letters and saying them out loud.

    When I designed the bookcase in 2004 it was an instant hit with Adele – and today it’s one of our best sellers. I did make one adjustment along the way, though. To begin with, the alphabet letters were in capitals but then I got chatting to a schoolteacher who told me that kids start by learning lower case letters. If you think about, with books that’s the letters kids see most and are the ones they become familiar with – so of course it made perfect sense for me to change the bookcase letters to lowercase.  

    Learning the alphabet is so important for the development of children’s reading and literacy. Once they’ve mastered the different letters and their sounds then they have the building blocks of language – and the wonderful world of books awaits them!

    I like the idea of making learning fun, so my bookcase can also be personalised. It’s a great way to get kids into the alphabet when they can learn how to recognise the letters of their name. And it ties in beautifully with my ethos of growing children’s independence and giving them their own domain in which to learn. I mean, what could be better than your own personal mini-library with your name on it?

    How do you help your kids learn the alphabet?

  • 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 fall 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?'

    The Tidy Books Sorting Boxes will be available in the US soon.

  • 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.

    Adele with the very first Tidy Books bookcase made by Geraldine.

    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.

    The Tidy Books strapline.

    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...

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