SHELDON—Budding bibliophiles in Sheldon have a new way to get their hands on books and, best of all, it is free.
Sheldon Look 4 a Book launched Thursday, Oct. 3.
Hidden around the community are books inside of a resealable plastic bag. The reading materials range in difficulty level from prekindergarten to sixth grade.
Inside each bag on a laminated card this message awaits:
“Congratulation! You are the lucky finder of this book. I hope you enjoy it. You may choose to read it or pass it onto someone else. Please take a photo and post it on Facebook page ‘Sheldon Look 4 a Book.’ Please re-hide this book or another for someone else to find. Enjoy reading!”
The person behind the proliferation of publications is Sami Noteboom of rural Sheldon.
The 17-year-old is a senior at Sheldon High School and a member of the Western Workers 4-H Club. She started Sheldon Look 4 a Book for her 4-H Citizenship Project.
During Citizen Projects, 4-H members are asked to make a difference by discovering the needs of their local community, helping others and getting involved.
The idea to give away books came from Noteboom’s stepmother, Amanda, who saw that other communities were doing something similar through Facebook groups.
The duo applied for and received a $250 grant through Thrivent Financial to get the project off the ground.
With the seed money, they purchased 164 books directly from Scholastic, the powerhouse publishing firm, plastic baggies, card stock and some laminating sheets. Additionally, a laminator and 15 books were donated to the cause.
Noteboom said it took more than 10 hours to get all of the cards that go with the books cut, laminated and packaged.
Fortunately, a lot of her family members helped out when they were at her family’s home for her younger brother’s birthday party.
“I was just really happy to have all the family that I did to help me out with this,” Noteboom said.
Since Thursday, Noteboom has used her downtime to hide books in areas around Sheldon such as City Park, downtown and along the recreational trail.
“Where kids are going to find them and not get hurt trying,” Noteboom said.
Within hours of hiding the first set of books, posts began appearing on the Sheldon Look 4 a Book page.
“The first day I put them out, ‘I was like, oh, nobody is going to find these’ — I thought it would be like a week or two before I got people noticing and then it was like, ‘Ope, I found a book already,’” Noteboom said.
She has found that hiding the books can lead to some awkward moments.
“I kind of look like an idiot when I’m hiding these things,” Noteboom said.
One time she was trying to hide books by a church and the pastor, who pulled up as she was doing it, started questioning her. After she explained the situation, he gave his blessing for her to hide them there.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s fine, I don’t care; I just want to make sure you weren’t planting anything suspicious,’” Noteboom said.
Another notable moment occurred on Friday before the Orabs’ home football.
The theme for the student section was the 1980s and Noteboom was fully glammed out complete with blue eye shadow when she decided it was a good time to go hide some books.
“I hid some by First Reformed and all these cars are driving by on Washington (Avenue) and I look like this crazy person hiding books,” Noteboom said nothing that her hair was blown out for the occasion.
These moments aside, Noteboom is enjoying how things are going with Sheldon Look 4 a Book.
As of Tuesday morning, Oct. 8, 12 book photos had been published on the page by someone other than herself and more than 150 people had joined the group.
Noteboom is proud of the response and said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I’ve got a lot comments from teachers and parents like ‘this is such a cool idea, thank you for doing this,’” she said.
“I like that kids can go out and read and it’s like a scavenger hunt with a reading reward and I also feel like it’s going to help the kids with their reading comprehension.”