A new activity aimed at keeping children actively learning and growing during the summer months is taking place in city parks throughout Isanti County – Mama Merry Books.
Books have been hidden at several city parks in Braham, Cambridge and Isanti for children and their parents/caregivers to find. Once a child and parent/caregiver finds a book, they can enjoy reading it in the park or bring it home to read it.
“When they are done reading the story, they will re-hide the books for others to find and enjoy,” said Patty Merry, of Braham.
Merry is a “proud mom” of two boys, James, 12, and Hayden, 10. An undergraduate student at St. Cloud State University majoring in early childhood education, she has envisioned the project for more than a year, inspired by the hidden painted rock craze last summer.
“Last summer I thought, ‘Would this not be so much fun to do the same thing with books?’” Merry said. “Now this summer, here we are building a strong sense of community by reading, finding and hiding books through Mama Merry Books.”
She hopes the activity will create long-lasting memories of quality time spent between parents/caregivers and their children.
“In the world of such a fast pace, I hope that we are able to slow down a little, enjoy a book and the beautiful nature and parks around us,” Merry said, noting she also hopes it gets children excited about reading. “This same excitement will become a love of reading. As an educator, it is important to guide children towards a positive and strong love of reading that will last a lifetime.”
Thus far, there are 40 books hidden, and more books continue to be hidden.
Parks with hidden books are Rum River Meadows and Bluebird Park in Isanti, Brown Park and City Park in Cambridge, and Hidden Park and High Point Park in Braham.
The hidden books are appropriate for ages birth to sixth grade, with a board book, picture books and chapter books hidden at each location.
Merry purchased the books from thrift stores and was also given donations from friends. Other materials like plastic bags she purchased herself.
“I was inspired to start Mama Merry Books with the idea of letting children explore and grow through their own learning and understanding,” Merry said. “I wanted children to be given opportunities to spend quality time with parents and caregivers. This is a fun way to get outside and explore the parks, books and our imaginations.”
Those participating in the activity are encouraged to like, follow and interact with “Mama Merry Books” on Facebook.
“I thought it would be fun to create a Facebook page to continue the sense of community,” Merry said. “The feedback from the Facebook page is so positive and fun. That is what this entire project is based on.”