Children's book hunt becomes runaway viral success - here's how to take part

A teacher is plotting an ingenious way to get children to learn to love literature – through a novel game of hide and seek.

By Gareth Crickmer
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019, 16:45
Daniel Kellett. Hiding a book in a tree. Picture by Frank Reid

Christine Elrick, 43, of Gordon Drive, East Boldon, has opened a new chapter to reading by encouraging over 9,000 parents to place their old books in public places for kids to find.

She is confident her LOOK for a BOOK North East England initiative will have a happy ending.

In less than a week, Christine has recruited thousands of mums and dads from across the region to take part in this Saturday’s big book hunt via her Facebook group.

Christine Elrick with her children Ruby and Daniel Kellett. Picture by Frank Reid

They have pledged to head to parks, transport networks, town centres and other areas on Friday and leave behind hidden books, safely sealed for children to find the next day.

Each will carry a special message, and likely hotspots include the marine parks, Westoe, and Cleadon.

Mum-of-two Christine, a leader of literacy at a South Shields primary school, said: “It’s a tiny idea that’s gone crazy in just a few days.

“It started off as something I was going to do myself around East Boldon, then people got in touch through Facebook and it spread to South Tyneside and then the North East.

Ruby Kellett along side a book she is about to hide. Hiding a book in a tree. Picture by Frank Reid

“Children can take any book they find away with them and read it, or put it back where they found it if it’s not for them, then look for another.”

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She added: “From a teacher’s point of view, I know how difficult it can be to get children enthused about reading. Hopefully they will love this idea.

“I think reading is important to parents – they have been very enthusiastic about this initiative. I think they are grateful that this is a way of getting their children into books.

“They are all thinking that they want their children to read, but there’s too much out there to distract – it’s the flashing lights of a game. Children would rather pick up an iPad than a book.”

Christine Elrick. Picture by Frank Reid

Parents as far and wide as Alnwick and Ashington, in Northumberland, and Stockton and Hartlepool, Teesside, have pledged to take part.

Environmentally, Christine expects the books to be placed in reusable or biodegradable bags.

Christine Elrick with her children Ruby and Daniel Kellett. Picture by Frank Reid
Dan Warren of Hillside Drive, Whitburn, who has had his first book published.
Dan Warren of Hillside Drive, Whitburn, who has had his first book published.