Sneaking Books in at breakfast: toast racks as book storage

posted in: 2. Illustrators and Authors | 18

toastrackstorageI’m always mulling over ideas about ways to introduce new opportunities for my kids to pick up a book and read but inspiration can strike in the strangest of places: I was recently in a charity shop when I saw a humble toast rack, the sort I associate with B&Bs, and suddenly I had a lightbulb moment!

It occurred to me that I could use the toast rack to display books on the kitchen table, making it easy and alluring for my kids to pick up something to read whilst eating their toast or cereal.


This has been perfect for the holidays, encouraging lingering over a book at breakfast.


I’ve enjoyed choosing a selection of new books each morning, searching out books my kids haven’t looked at for a while, or sneaking in a new one for them to discover.


The toast rack works really well with picture books because they aren’t as “fat” as chapter books (though maybe if I looked around I could find other toast racks with wider slots). I’ve also learned that it’s best to take off the dust jacket, to make it easy to slip the book in and out of the rack.


Do you encourage your kids to read at meal times? Where else do you try to sneak in reading opportunities?

18 Responses

  1. Hannane

    Thanks for sharing. the problem in our country is that kids don’t like reading, it is not a culture even for adults. I started the experience with my little nephew, it is true that he’s still a baby 19 months but I am giving him a book to make him believe it is its friends, his parents are already complaining coz he tore all the books I gave, they think it is a pity to lose money for such books and their son isn’t understanding anything anyway.. I am suffering.nobody taught me to love or encourage me to read yet I like books, but lately I don’t have time to read like I used to do before..

  2. Katherine

    What a lovely idea, especially for discovering new or forgotten books. Bagl likes to look at cookery books while I get food ready, especially the River Cottage Baby and a Toddler cookbook because he likes the photos of babies and toddlers eating and cooking. I was allowed to read at breakfast when I was a child but not other meals (I was reading most of the rest if the time though!), I can remember trying to prop chapter books open with my cereal bowl.
    Katherine recently posted..#10in2014 – Glasgow Commonwealth Games Festival

  3. Zoe

    Hannane, so sorry to hear that things are difficult – but you’re definitely doing the right thing sharing books with your nephew. Perhaps there is a library you can join to help keep costs down?

    Katherine, yes, I know lots of adults don’t feel comfortable with books at mealtime, but we’ve always shared books over food – it generates great conversation. We just have to make sure we don’t have library books at the table in case of food accidents!
    Zoe recently posted..Sneaking Books in at breakfast: toast racks as book storage

  4. Catherine

    This is a lovely idea, especially during school holidays. A special treat that we used to have as children was a book tea where we were allowed to read a book at the table while we ate. It’s definitely a tradition that I will be continuing. I like to read while I’m eating too so it’s a lovely way for me to role model reading 🙂
    Catherine recently posted..Book bloggers recommend starting school picture books (1)


    Brilliant! And I’m so proud and delighted you have Shaun Tan included there! (If I may say ‘we,’then we are both Australian).

  6. Ruth Dryden

    Great idea! I have a folding rack at home which could accommodate different sizes of books – though these days with just my husband and myself at home we tend to read the newsapaper at the table!

    Hannane, don’t give up trying books with your nephew. My eldest daughter – now 30 and embarking on her 4th degree – was terrible at scribbling in and tearing books till she could begin to read them herself. So we used to leave copies of things like catalogues in her cot for her to look at in the mornings when she woke up and it didn’t matter if they got torn, and saved the ‘good’ books to read with her under supervision. That way she was still looking at words and pictures from an early age. She has now read many books in more than half a dozen languages so it must have worked!

    Best wishes

  7. Zoe

    Catherine – I love the specialness of your “book teas” 🙂

    Simone – ah yes Tan is a master to be proud of 🙂 One of my favourites of his is Eric

    Ruth – yes newspapers at the table are such a treat. That’s mostly what the grownups in our home have too – and now M likes to read certain columns too, and the daily comic strip.
    Zoe recently posted..Sneaking Books in at breakfast: toast racks as book storage

  8. Ruth Ahmedzai

    Great idea! You’ve given me and my husband confidence in our instinct that books have a place at meal times. Our 3 and a half year old has always loved having stories at meal times to help him keep focussed and as a reward (he only gets to turn to the next page after 2 more mouthfuls…), but lately we had a rethink and decided to cut back on books and try to straitjacket him into eating nicely like a boring civilized grown up. It’s been agony and we’ve since realized that there’s nothing wrong with reading at the table as long as we’re respectful of the books & try not to make a mess. I’d rather my son grows up enjoying meal times and retains his love of books; we’ll worry about table manners later! 

    • Zoe

      Ruth, wishing you ever more confidence! Yes, some books may get a little dirty (we do have our fair few with broccoli or noodles sticking pages together…), but mostly the books are fine, and they are loved. I’m sure your 3.5 year old will get all the table manners he needs but he’ll also know that you value books, and the battle that mealtimes can sometimes be will be that much more pleasant for you.

  9. choxbox

    Love The Art of Clean Up! Found it at the bookshop in the Tate Modern 🙂

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