Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do


Reading with the girls (though we don't normally look this smart!)

I’m a mum of two young girls (referred to here as M [9] and J [6]) and we really love words and we really love to make stuff.

Sometimes we make or do something and we want a good book (or poem / song / audiobook) that continues the game, that captures some of the magic we’ve enjoyed. Sometimes it’s the other way round and we read a great book which inspires us to get the glue and glitter out.

Either way, we’ve always got plenty of books around the house, boxes of “crafty stuff” and a desire to have fun**.

However, my memory is terrible :-) So this blog is to celebrate and remind me of many of the things we get up to as a family, of the books we’ve read and loved and that you might just fall in love with too. You can read more about the story behind the blog in various interviews I’ve done, for example here, here and here.

We’re a bilingual family (English-Dutch), based in the UK. We try to live making as little impact on the earth as possible (for example, we don’t drive, all our electricity comes from renewable sources, we grow as much of our own food as we currently know how to).

  • Three random things I love: seeing kids get excited, Orkney, plenty of coffee first thing in the morning

  • Three random things M loves: fossils, dragons, getting up to mischief with an audiobook on in the background

  • Three random things J loves: whirling, telling quiet stories to herself in the garden, chorizo

  • There’s also a wonderful husband and father in our crazy home who loves reading with M and J, and who is very good at clearing up glitter / flour / squashed food and being patient with the never ending creation of book piles.

    Book suggestions are always very welcome. I try to post at least twice a week – on Mondays and Thursdays.

    This blog has been running for more than 5 years now. There are some old links to an Amazon affiliate scheme I was part of, and if you click those a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. However, I no longer link to Amazon, and I encourage you to use your public library or shop local wherever possible. You can find out about the nearest independent bookshops to you (in the UK) either through the Booksellers Association search tool, or through the HIVE network.

    Away from the blog I’m involved in all sorts of book-ish fun. I sit on the National Executive of a kids’ reading-for-pleasure charity, The Federation of Children’s Book Groups, where I have special responsibility for non-fiction books for kids and young people. At any given time I’m involved in various voluntary local projects bring kids and books together – for example, story enrichment sessions at schools or running the 8-12 book club in the local public library. Until funding was recently cut I worked as an infant school librarian. In the past I’ve been a judge for a children’s book award and I’ve organised a children’s literature festival. I have dreams of opening a shop front into other worlds, inspired by The Ministry of Stories and 826 Valencia.

    zoe dot toft at kuvik dot net is my email address and you can find my on Twitter @playbythebook – I’m always happy to hear from my readers!

    **This means – and I’m glad to admit it – that strictly speaking we don’t always play by the book…

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