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baby and toddler activities, Free things to do with toddlers

Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire

One thing I love about where I live is the amazing community spirit. It mat be one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, but what we lack in our pockets we make up for in kindness and good spirits.

The latest example of that is the Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire initiative which was recently started by a local mum. Having seen something similar in another area, she decided to bring the idea to our neighbourhood which has got everybody in the community spirit.

What is Look for a Book West Dubartonshire?

According to their Facebook page, it’s a thrilling activity for families which injects fun and excitement into reading, by combining it with hide and seek. Essentially, children are invited to hunt for books around the local area, which have been hidden by other children. Books are hidden in parks, at the school gates, in the leisure centres and local cafes and anywhere that makes a good hiding spot really.

Each book is hidden with a cover note from Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire, saying congratulations on finding the book, and encouraging finders to read and keep, pass on or re-hide the book once they have read it. Finders are also encouraged to hide their own books for other boys and girls to find.

The power of social media is what really drives this fun game – clues as to where books are hidden are shared in the Facebook group and conversely parents share pictures of their happy children who have found books. The cover note with books strongly encourages the use of social media to share findings and be part of this community game.

Taking part in Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire

Its really easy to take part as all you need is a dry day to get outside and get hunting! We looked on the Facebook group to see if any books had been recently hidden nearby, and if any clues had been shared. This game is so popular in the area that books can literally be found within 15 minutes of a clue being shared online.

Unfortunately we haven’t found any books yet (though not for lack of trying!) But we did take part and hide some books locally. The cover sheets to accompany the books are available to print online, and most of the local West Dunbartonshire libraries have stocks of the cover sheets and plastic wallets to keep books dry. We just did it the old fashioned way and wrote our notes by hand.

We picked our spots and set off to hide some books from our bookshelves which Travis was no longer interested in. At this stage in his life, I’m too scared to give away some of his more loved books to others (if we don’t read Mr Happy at Sports Day every bedtime, I think his world would implode) but a lot of the participants have given away some of their favourite books, and well-loved ones that they have grown out of. Others have bought books especially to hide, though there’s no obligation to do that.

Free fun for all the family

The best part about this initiative is that it’s all-inclusive. There’s no cash barrier and no age barrier – books are hidden for all-ages from baby books right up to YA fiction. If your child finds a book and you/they think it doesn’t suit age or topic-wise, then you’re welcome to re-hide it for someone else to find, whilst you search for another to read. Additionally, the only ask is that you hide books back – this can either be the same book you found, or a book your child already owns. Either way, this costs you no money to participate in, and you get to enjoy two activities with your child – getting outdoors on a book hunt, and enjoying story-time later.
This has honestly got to be one of the best uses I’ve seen for social media and one of the quickest-adopted community schemes (RIP chain mails) in my area and I’m so thankful that we can take part. If you’re reading this and you’re not from West Dunbartonshire – why not set up your own Look for a Book game in your area?
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