Back in 2004, when I founded Tidy Books, my aim was to make a kids bookcase that made sense to kids. I saw how my four-year-old daughter, Adele, struggled to find the book she wanted because she couldn’t see the front cover. Most of her books ended up on the floor as she pulled out one after the other from her bookcase, searching for Babar the Elephant. It was frustrating for her, and made a messy pile of books on the carpet for me to tidy up! So I made our lives easier – I designed a front-facing bookcase.
Well, Adele loved her new bookcase. With the book covers clearly on display she could instantly find her favourite book when she needed it. As a parent, it was lovely to watch her – I could see how she was drawn to the bookcase and how she enjoyed picking out the books she wanted to read. Seeing the joy she found in her books inspired me to continue making products that stimulated kids' love of reading.
As you might have gathered, I’m pretty passionate about books. That’s why I’m so pleased that we have annual events like this month’s World Read Aloud Day – run by LitWorld , our charity partners in the US – which brings global attention to the importance of reading aloud. From my own experience with Adele and my son, Emile, I’ve seen how reading aloud helped them form a positive association with books. I can still remember how they snuggled up close to me as I turned the pages, and how their eyes lit up in wonder as I used different voices for the characters in the books.
Reading aloud is a wonderful bonding experience and that time spent with my kids was simply magical. I also know that it started them on the path to learning from a young age. Reading aloud is recognised as being the most important activity for language development and when you read aloud to your child, you’re helping them to build word-sound awareness. You’re also helping them to develop their listening skills – something that will hold them in good stead when they start nursery and then go on to school. In one study, kids who were read aloud to every day were nearly a year ahead of those who weren’t.
In our time-strapped, technology-obsessed world, it can be easy to forget the importance of reading aloud to our children... and grandchildren... and nieces and nephews. But I know that those moments we take to read aloud will foster a love of reading – and learning – that will see our little ones grow into confident, capable, clever kids.