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Getting kids reading

  • Why it’s smart to keep your kids off the phone

    It’s not easy being a parent. A couple of weeks ago a friend admitted the only way she can have an uninterrupted conversation with her mum when they’re out having a coffee is to give her two-year-old her mobile phone to play with. 

    She’s not alone. The phone has become the first response for harassed parents when they need to keep their kids occupied. These days it’s not that unusual to see toddlers playing with a phone – my friend’s brother reckons smartphones are like ‘baby crack’.

    Toddlers and mobile phone addiction 

    It’s true that mobile phones have become addictive. Look online and you’ll find lots of articles on the problem – with even two-year-olds getting hooked on mobile phones.

    My friend has already noticed that when she doesn’t give her toddler the phone, he starts screaming. And when she asks him to do a drawing, he’s finished in seconds rather than spending time being creative. Her observations are backed up by research that suggests too much screen time can affect children’s concentration Mobile phone addiction in kids has also been linked to higher incidence of anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder and behavioural problems. 

    phone addiction, mobile phones, toddler phone, kids phone use Keeping kids off phones, with a Tidy Books bookcase full of books. Photo credit @natalievijfhuizen

    Make reading a habit for your kids

    I’m lucky that when my children were growing up smartphones weren’t around so they never got hooked (though they still spend too much time attached to their phones for my liking!)  And I think having a book-obsessed mum helped. From an early age, their eyes were opened to the joy of reading to feed their imagination rather than staring at a screen.

    Reading with your child, or to them, is one of the activities that psychologists recommend to help prevent mobile phone addiction . Of course that’s easy when you’re at home and have access to books – but what happens when, like my friend, you’re out in a cafe?

    Some GPs and dentists offer a small selection of books for kids to read – but I’d like to see lots more places getting book-friendly. Shops, restaurants and hospitals could all provide a mini-library filled with books. The books could even be themed according to where they are – like travel books for an airport. How cool would that be for kids to read about faraway places just before they get on the plane? 

    Books to keep kids occupied

    Here at Tidy Books our bookcase and book box have already started to appear in some shops. Even the smallest places can accommodate our mini-library because the slimline bookcase  holds 85 books and there’s enough room for 40 books in the portable book box

    We love that it gives kids plenty of choice. They’re not faced with a sad little pile of books – instead they have a nice big selection and the front-facing design of the products means they can easily pick out the book that grabs their attention.

    Unlike smartphones, children won’t get addicted to books. But reading will definitely keep them occupied. And while your kids are happily engrossed in a good book, you can enjoy a guilt-free coffee with your friends.

    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.

  • The Christmas gift your 2-year-old will love (no batteries required!)

    Do you know what present you’re buying your two-year-old for Christmas? Are you stuck for ideas for something memorable and meaningful?


    Growing up in France, I was given one main present from Santa Claus at Christmas, which was the custom. I was perfectly happy with that – and I bet my relatives were relieved that they didn’t have to find lots of gifts for me each year! When I moved to England I continued the tradition, buying my children just one substantial gift and perhaps a couple of smaller presents to unwrap as well. 

    I think lots of families like to do the same thing. But buying presents for 2 year olds can be tricky, can’t it? Which is why I love getting letters like this one from customers who’ve found the perfect Christmas gift at Tidy Books...

    ‘I bought your bookcase for my 2-year-old boy and it was a huge hit! Bedtime stories took a lot longer than usual last night because he could see the front of so many books, and stories he’d forgotten about were suddenly appealing.’ Fiona

    presents for 2 year olds, gifts for two year olds, toddler gifts, tidy books box No batteries required! A Tidy Books Box or Bookcase is an ideal gift for 2 year olds. Photo @ninakina

    ‘It’s great to know that the giver gets as much enjoyment from the gift as the receiver. It’s the sort of gift that allows parents to spend quality time with their two-year-old, watching them interact and have fun with their books. And for toddlers, it’s the perfect gift to help build up their independence as they start to choose their own books. The bookcase and book box can also be personalised with a name to make it that extra bit special for the owner!

    Our sturdy products are made to last so your enjoyment will continue for many years to come as your two-year-old grows along with their book collection. It’s perhaps the reason why lots of grandparents buy our bookcase.  They prefer to give a special gift to their grandchildren that won’t be forgotten about when the Christmas decorations come down. And doesn’t involve batteries or staring at a screen!

    * Want to order for Christmas? Our bookcase and book box can be ordered up to 13th December.  

  • The book you never forgot

    From all my years of reading, there’s one book that has a special place in my heart and that’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    Just thinking about it now I’m transported back to school and waiting excitedly for the teacher to read it out loud to the class. 

    I remember being completely captivated by the funny characters and the strange things that happened to them. It was amazing to me that there could be so much adventure and fun in those simple pages. That one book gave me the gift of reading and sparked a lifelong love of books.

     charlie and the chocolate factory, gift of reading, childrens books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Illustration Quentin Blake

    Recently I was talking about unforgettable books with a friend. Hers was Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree. She says she was hooked by the magical, make-believe stories – which not only encouraged her to read more, they also inspired her to become a writer.

    As we chatted I realised it wasn’t just the book itself that had such a big impact on my life. My teacher used to read us a new chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every Friday, so whatever else was going on around me, I knew that I could rely on that one day to safely lose myself in another world. There was something really comforting in that. 

    Making a reading environment that fosters the gift of reading

    I think those feelings have been passed onto Tidy Books. From the start I wanted to make books easily accessible to children, so I designed slimline products that fitted easily into the home and gave kids their own little reading space. I liked the idea of kids having control over their books, too – hence the front-facing bookcase that means they can easily pick their favourite book. And most of all I wanted to create a reading environment that felt like their own special haven. 

    I’m so happy that I discovered that one book when I was 5 – it really did feel like I’d been given a gift of reading. I’d love to think that someone right now is discovering their unforgettable book. And that one day, years from now, they will look back and remember that Tidy Books was with them when they found it.

    * What’s the book that you’ve never forgotten? I’d love to know so pop me a line

    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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