A new initiative to encourage children to read more while they explore the outdoors is off to a flying start.

Dorset Hidden Books involves hiding children’s books in the county’s public areas for children to find and read.

Children who find the books can take them away, read them, and hide them again if they choose.

The scheme was started by schoolteacher Emma Berry from Dorchester, who wanted to find a way to get children to read more.

She also noted that the game also gets children outdoors in an activity that all the family can do together.

Emma said: “I have been a primary school teacher for twenty years and I am always looking for ways to enthuse children about reading because I believe it’s the most fundamental thing children need to learn and be engaged by.

“A friend let me know about a similar group she’d seen in another area and so I set up the Facebook group one evening – not ever imagining how big it would get. In less than a week we had 13,000 members. As far as I know there are several other groups in the UK but the largest membership I’ve seen so far is 5,000. So this is really something that Dorset families have embraced. “

She added: “I’ve been contacted by people in America and other counties asking if they can set up something in their area too. Lots of people on holidays in the area have found books and several have said they’re taking the idea of the group back home with them.”

The Facebook group has since grown to more than 15,000 members.

Books hidden must be suitable for children age 0-12, they must be left somewhere in a zip-lock or other clear bag, and the books must be in good condition. The bag should include a note saying that the book is part of the challenge.

Emma has also said that she intends to create a similar scheme with books for slightly older children and teenagers.

There has been a lot of positive feedback about the challenge from members of the group.

Many parents have said that their children have been enthusiastic about finding the books and have enjoyed reading them as well.

To find out more and to take part, search for Dorset Hidden Books on Facebook and join the group.