Hidden Books Encourage Children to Read

Join the literary treasure hunt for kids.

Two girls reading a book they found in a park.

(lunamarina / Shutterstock.com)

Books can help grow imaginations by bringing  children to magical places. Great books for kids can be found at the library or in book stores; the usual places. But for the past three years, children are using their imaginations to find hidden books in many unusual places in Braidwood, a town in New South Wales, Australia.

The books are part of a literary treasure hunt that is sweeping the town, reported ABC News, and they are turning up everywhere.  Some are hidden on the streets, in shop windows, or in local parks.

The children  find a book – that has been placed in a plastic sleeve – take it home, read it, write their name in it, and then either keep it or re-hide it for someone else to find. The initiative is a fun way of encouraging children to read.

Local mom’s brainchild
Samantha Dixon, a mother of five and a foster mother of five, founded Hidden Books after reading about similar initiatives in the US, UK, and New Zealand on Facebook. She realized that she had a bookcase full of children’s books that were already read and decided that giving away books was much more useful than the recent trend of finding hidden rocks.

"It's lovely to watch the little kids' faces when they find the books. It's a bit magical,” Dixon told ABC News. She’s really happy that the books her kids read and enjoyed are now being read again.

After three years, the project runs itself. “Obviously people were re-hiding books that were already out there but we have some lovely community members who are out there regularly hiding new books for the children to read,” Dixon said.

Kāpiti Hidden Books
Hidden books spread to New Zealand in February, 2021, reported the New Zealand Herald, when the first group of books was spread around the Kāpiti district. It was founded by Y'vonne Miller after she had a chance conversation with someone who was participating in a similar project.

The project took off immediately and now more than 3,200 books have been hidden around the district. "We have 764 members on the Kāpiti Hidden Books Facebook page, but we don't know how many people have found them and read them, and how many have placed the book back out," Miller told the  NZ Herald.

People are donating books from their bookshelves, from schools updating their libraries, from bookstores, and from funding given by a private donor.

“There's nothing nicer than putting some books out and seeing people pick them up and enjoy them or walking back past minutes later and they're already gone," Pauline Donovan, one of the organizers said.

And the big plus is that Hidden books encourage kids to read. “We've heard stories of children picking up books who don't normally read and children coming back for more,” said one of the project's organizers, Julie Tregear.

From Book Fairies in New York and London, to Hidden Books in the Southern Hemisphere, these literary treasure hunts share the magic of books and inspire a generation of young readers.

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