When Gisborne Police employee Jill White started hiding books in local parks for children to find she had no idea what an incredible chain of events she would create.
A 23-year veteran of Police, Jill scours op shops for books that she thinks will capture the imagination of children and every Saturday morning visits local parks and hides them under trees and in bushes for children to find.
She includes a note telling the recipient the book is free to take home and they’re welcome to re-hide for others to enjoy once they’re finished with it.
Last week, the Prosecutions Support Officer was named TVNZ Seven Sharp’s ASB Good As Gold recipient and received $10,000 for going above and beyond to promote children’s literacy in Tairāwhiti.
Since the story has aired on television (scroll down to the watch the video), Jill has been inundated with messages of support from around the country, with many people wanting to set up a similar scheme in their rohe.
“The award came as a complete surprise and I’m truly humbled, and to hear from people all over the country wanting to create similar schemes is just wonderful," says Jill.
She has also had people drop boxes of children’s books off to her to be shared.
With a passion for encouraging children to discover a love of reading, Jill started hiding books earlier this year after hearing about a similar initiative on the Kapiti Coast.
“The bond you create with a child when you sit and read with them. It’s something you can’t really do with anything else and it’s so special.
“One of the most touching things for me about Hidden Books, is seeing the Facebook posts each week, with photos of children who have found books.”
And if the comments and photos on the Tairawhiti Hidden Books Facebook page are anything to go by the scheme is a huge hit in the East Coast town. Some families have even re-hidden the books in other towns!
“I love that these children are getting to experience a bit of magic.”
While Jill is being encouraged to spend some of the $10,000 on something for herself and her family, she’s keen to use some of it to ensure lots of children in Tairawhiti get exposed to books.