BOOKS are being hidden around Basingstoke after a mum came up with an idea to encourage children to read and exercise.

Look for a Book was launched on Facebook by Jenny Kruk-Strzelecki on August 12, and within five days more than 3,000 people were following her page.

The idea works by children hiding books they no longer read in a waterproof zip-lock bag which can be re-used, with a leaflet inside explaining what it’s all about.

Those who find the hidden books can read them, then re-hide for others to find.

Since launching last week, hundreds of Basingstoke families have taken part, posting photos of children with their discoveries to the Facebook page.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Jenny, a registered childminder, said: “There’s no set rules other than if you find a book take it home and read it then pop it back into it’s bag and re-hide it, or, if you really like it keep it and hide another one. The response has been overwhelming. The page has more than 3,000 people in four days, and I’ve had messages from people saying their child doesn’t like reading and this has encouraged them to.

“It’s a simple idea and everyone has picked up on it and it’s been amazing.”

Local authors have also come forward offering to hide signed copies of their books, as well as various clubs and businesses.

Jenny said: “It’s getting children and their families out and spending time with their family and it’s encouraging children to read. I know how important it is to read. Reading with your children has so many benefits, it widens their vocabulary and introduces them to reading early is really important. It’s quality time and it’s making memories. I can remember as a child snuggling up on my mum’s lap and reading a book and I want our children to have the same.

“I think we have got into a culture of putting them in front of a screen. There’s a time and a place for that, and technology has its place in learning, however you can’t beat a book. They can learn empathy and gain information. Once you introduce a child to books the world is their oyster.”

Basingstoke Gazette:

Jenny said searching for books outside encourages children to exercise with a fun element involved, adding: “I’ve had a message from one mum who was isolated and she’s been out and she’s met other mums and her child has met other children, so there’s the social element as well.”

Jenny is now talking with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council about holding a storytelling event in War Memorial Park next month.

For more information about Look for a Book Basingstoke follow the Facebook page.