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  • Should you KonMari your kids’ books?

    So who went a little declutter crazy last month? January is traditionally the time of year when many of us have a bit of a clear out when we’re packing away the Christmas decorations. But while you were dispatching those unwanted items to the loft or local charity shop did you ‘KonMari’ your kids’ books too?

    In case you didn’t know, ‘KonMari’ is the method devised by Japanese declutter guru Marie Kondo. And her recent Netflix TV series, ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’, caused a bit of an outcry when it showed Kondo helping two people lose a sizeable chunk of their book collections. Get rid of books? Many book lovers couldn’t believe Kondo could suggest such an outrageous thing!

    kon marie, kon mari kids books, marie kondo, tidy up, kids books, kids bookcases Should you Kon Mari your kids books?. Photo @totaleve

    Well when it comes to children’s books, I think less is more. It can be overwhelming if kids have too many books – they’ll spend half their reading time trying to decide which one to pick. And if the books are crammed onto a bookshelf with only their spine showing it makes choosing even harder. It’s exactly why our book case is front facing – kids can see the book covers to help them decide.

    The Tidy Books bookshelf holds up to 85 books – which might not go down well with Marie Kondo, who has scaled her books down to just 30 – but it’s small and slimline so it doesn’t hog room space. And the thing is, you don’t have to fill it with 85 books. When my kids were growing up, I let them keep out a small selection of books at a time so they could get familiar with the ones they had. I put the rest of their books away in the cupboard then every couple of months I’d rotate their collection so they had a whole lot of new books to enjoy.

    I think Marie Kondo would approve. When challenged over the book decluttering issue, Kondo explained that if the thought of getting rid of a book made you angry, then of course you should keep it. Her mantra? ‘If a book sparks joy for you – keep it with confidence.’ And that’s definitely something we agree on!

  • I’ll have the burger – with a book on the side

    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!

    entertaining kids in restaurants, book corner, reading corner, eating out with kids, How to entertain kids in restaurants without a screen. Picture credit, Family Nation

    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?  

    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.

  • Giving the gift of reading. Why a book is extra special at Holiday time

    I love getting books at for the Holidays. My husband, Matthew, and I always buy each other books so I purposely don’t buy any in the lead up to the festivities – then when I undo the wrapping paper I get really excited to see which one I’ve got. I feel like a big kid really.

    I love giving the gift of reading, too – knowing the recipients are going to get so much pleasure from opening up their book and immersing themselves in the story inside.

    giving the gift of reading, kids books, gift of reading, tidy books, book box, book storage box Unwrapping books this Christmas. Credit @tthese_beautiful_thingss

    Giving the gift of reading is a great way to get children into books. It makes books feel extra-special when they’re wrapped up as a present and given with love. And the Holidays are the perfect time for children to snuggle in and enjoy their new books. They can visit exotic countries, join in exciting adventures and discover new things to learn – all in one place.

    In Iceland, they’re as enthusiastic about reading at Christmas as I am. They have a tradition there called Jolabokaflod, or ‘The Christmas Book Flood’, where around November time every household is sent a book catalogue and people order books as gifts for family and friends. Then, on Christmas Eve, when it’s traditional to exchange presents, people stay in to read their new book, accompanied by a mug of hot chocolate or glass of jólabland, a mix of fizzy orange and ale. It’s brilliant that books are such a big part of their life, and that at Christmas time parents and children can spend time together reading.

    If you like the idea of having a book-filled Holidays, our Book Storage Box is a great way to keep all your kids’ books in one neat and tidy place. It’s portable so you can take it into the living room during the day then pop it upstairs ready for bedtime reading. It’s like a little moveable library so your children always have their books near them and they can dip in and out to read whenever they like. When my kids were younger, we used ours all the time.

    My two children may be in their teens now, but I still love sharing our reading. Later I’ll be popping into a book shop to buy my daughter a Christmas present. She’s into crime thrillers, which isn’t a genre I read, so I’ll have fun browsing the shelves, checking the reviews and finding out more. Who knows, I may discover a fascinating new world we can explore together this Christmas.  

    * Are you doing a Secret Santa at work this Christmas? A great idea from Beanstalk, the national literacy charity that we support, is to give one of your books as a gift and donate the money to them. Find out more

    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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