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EXCITING NEW INTERACTIVE KIDS’ READING DIGITAL PORTAL UNVEILED BY LIBRARIES UNLIMITED FOR 2024

Netflix actress and voiceover artist Jo Pickard brings ‘The Secret Book Quest’ to life on a new web platform

Libraries Unlimited’s acclaimed children’s reading programme, ‘The Secret Book Quest’, is being expanded online in 2024 with the talent of actress and voiceover artist Jo Pickard.

The charity, which runs libraries around Devon and Torbay, launched The Secret Book Quest in 2021 with a free sticker book and prizes for children to collect in-person in libraries. Over 8,000 youngsters over the age of five have so far signed up and almost 1,000 have reached or exceeded the Quest target of 50 books.

Children work towards the 50-book goal by collecting stickers along the way, deciphering a code and winning a special prize at the end. Characters Pip, Zena and Libro the cat, created by illustrator Emily Fox, take children through 10 themed ‘worlds’ in their library including Space, Imagination and Jurassic zones.

The journey will now be enhanced on an interactive digital platform which will feature games and an unlockable story. The chapters are presented in text to read with an accompanying audio version narrated by the award-winning Jo Pickard, whose voice has featured in everything from Omaze to the 2012 Olympics and who has appeared in Netflix’s ‘The Girl from Oslo’ and ‘The Art of Love’.

Jo, who has visited Devon since she was a child and has an aunt in Plymouth, said: “I adore this project. The story is so magical and engaging, each chapter taking them on a journey full of fun and wisdom. Getting children excited about reading and opening their imaginations is key to a happy and successful future.”

Children just need to join their local library for free in Devon or Torbay to sign up for The Secret Book Quest.

Sophie Crofts, Reading Development Manager from Libraries Unlimited said: “The Secret Book Quest is designed to boost children’s reading and our initial launch was very timely as it happened after the pandemic slump. It has been an incredible success throughout our libraries, and we’re thrilled that Jo has come on board with us to ensure our online launch is reaches many more children.”

“Staff have seen so many children, who may have struggled with reading or just simply not been interested, have their imaginations fired up with the structure of the Quest. Many children regularly visit our libraries but, from our local data, we know that there are children we are not currently reaching.  We wanted to find new ways to engage these children so the next stage for the Quest was to expand it online with an interactive platform.  Children can access our reading challenge for free and the new online portal gives extra activities such as games and a new story.”

“Reading improves children’s literacy, encourages empathy, provides escapism and boosts creativity. The Secret Book Quest is designed to cover a huge range of books to suit all young minds and tastes. We hope the interactive online portal will bring the adventure to more young readers around the county.”

The new Secret Book Quest interactive digital platform has been grant funded through the Library On programme, managed by the British Library, and supported by Arts Council England using public funds.

Children can sign up for free to The Secret Book Quest at their local library.  They will receive their very own Secret Book Quest journal, the first sticker in their collection and a bookmark to record the secret codes to access the new digital platform. Schools are welcome to contact their local library to request a visit.

For more information on The Secret Book Quest reading challenge, visit librariesunlimited.org.uk/secret-book-quest/

Libraries in Devon and Torbay are run by Libraries Unlimited, an independent staff and community owned charity. Join up for free by filling in the online form at devonlibraries.org.uk or torbaylibraries.org.uk. Follow Libraries Unlimited on Facebook.

For further information and full contact details please visit our web page librariesunlimited.org.uk.