I’ve always loved buying books and it seems my 12-year-old son, Emile, has caught the bug, too. One day last week he went straight from school to spend some of his Christmas money at the local book shop. He took along a couple of his mates to help him choose and when he got home he proudly showed me the two Japanese Manga books he’d bought.
Emile’s book-buying adventure made me smile. I loved the independence of him picking the books that he wanted without having an adult around. And the fact that he wanted to share the experience with his mates was very endearing – I could just picture them all in their school uniform browsing the bookshelves.
Emile loves his new books and they’ve inspired him to get back into reading – something that, I hate to admit, had recently taken a backseat to his Playstation.
For younger children, too, choosing their own books is a great way to foster independence and encourage reading. When I used to take Emile to the library I’d let him look at the shelves and pick his own books. I’d ask him what made him choose a particular book – was it because it had a colourful cover or featured his favourite animal or had a funny title. I found that understanding what he liked helped me to steer him towards similar books as well as encourage him to try different books to widen his reading.
Of course I kept an eye on the books’ reading levels, but I wasn’t worried if the book seemed a little bit below or above his level. Even if a picture book was a bit easy it was still great for sparking his imagination and if it was a bit too hard for him then I’d read it to him or we’d read it together.
I think there’s something about children choosing their own books that gives them a real sense of independence. And independence was also something I really wanted to nurture with my Tidy Books bookcase. I designed the bookcase with front-facing shelves to make it really easy for small children to pick and choose their own books and put them back themselves. It was about giving kids ownership of their own little library and the confidence to use it.
Judging by Emile’s book-buying trip, it seems that growing up with a Tidy Books bookcase helped to instil confidence and independence as well as a love of books. Mind you, having a bookaholic mum who’s always designing new products to encourage kids’ reading may also have had something to do with it!
* What was the first book your child chose independently – and why? Drop me a line to let me know.