Keen young readers and treasure hunters will have the chance to get their hands on a special golden ticket this half term in Rotherham. The lucky finder will win a special package filled with books, games, teddies and sweet treats.
The golden ticket will be slotted into a book and hidden somewhere in the local area by Rotherham College childcare students. Clues and riddles will be shared on the Look for a book Rotherham Facebook group which will lead to the book’s whereabouts.
The initiative was launched 18 months ago by Rotherham College Childcare Curriculum Team Leader Tracy Chapman after she saw it developing in another area of the country but realised there wasn’t anything similar in Rotherham.
Tracy said: “I’ve got a four-year-old who loves reading, but some children are missing out on books. One of my colleagues works in a school and a child she gave a book to started pressing it like a smartphone, or an iPad, not realising that it wasn’t a digital device. It just goes to show there are children out there that don’t know what books are and haven’t handled them before.”
The Facebook group, which has amassed over 6,200 members, aims to encourage children to explore the outdoors and become excited about reading. It is run voluntarily by Tracy and three other admins, Nicki Deakin, Gaynor Dodds and Beth Marles, but they’ve recently received much-needed help from Rotherham College childcare students who have been cleaning, wrapping and hiding the books in and around schools as they’ve been on placements. To comply with COVID-19 restrictions any donations which come in are quarantined for five weeks and students sanitise their hands before handling the books.
Once the books are hidden throughout areas including Rotherham town centre, Dinnington, Worksop and Wath upon Dearne, a photo of their whereabouts is shared on the Facebook group and children and their families can start searching. Once found, children can choose to read and re-hide the same one or, if they love it, keep the book and hide another – and the cycle continues.
Tracy said: “By making books easily available and adding the hide and seek element, hopefully it engages children to become interested in books in a way that they might not have done previously.”
As well as hoping to ignite a love of books Tracy is keen to provide families with a free activity they can do together. She said: “A lot of children sit in front of Xboxes and we get so tied up in society and a fast lifestyle that we don’t stop to appreciate what’s important. I think COVID-19 brought that home to a lot of people; a nice walk in the fields with your family is great and being able to do that while you are hiding or going looking for a book gives families a chance to spend time together without having to spend any money.”
To get involved simply search ‘Look for a book Rotherham’ on Facebook and request to join the group.
The group is always on the lookout for children’s books suitable for up to 15 years of age. To donate simply get in touch with Tracy, Nicki, Gaynor or Beth via the Facebook group.
For more information about Rotherham College please visit: www.rotherham.ac.uk