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Ambitious initiative to boost children’s reading in Devon and Torbay: Libraries Unlimited creates illustrated guide with 50 book goal

Posted on 08 Dec 2021

Secret Book Quest journalLibraries Unlimited has launched an ambitious new programme to help children catch up with their reading after the pandemic school closures. 

The Secret Book Quest launched across libraries in Devon and Torbay on Saturday 13th November and aims to instil a lifelong love of books and reading in children. 

It’s aimed at children over the age of five, with the target of getting them to read 50 books. Each child who signs up to the Quest will receive a booklet featuring a story that takes them on a journey through their local library.  

Lucy Banks, Reading Development Manager for Libraries Unlimited – the independent charity which runs 54 libraries and four mobile libraries in the Devon and Torbay Council areas – said: “We know that many children are falling behind with their reading after the pandemic, with primary school children losing 2.2 months of reading on average by March 2021*, and it’s our mission to help get them back up to speed.” 

“Libraries across Devon and Torbay have instilled a love of books and reading in generations of children. But we know for 2021’s children, it’s harder as their schooling has been disrupted by lockdown.”  

“The Secret Book Quest is already proving popular with Devon and Torbay’s children with over 500 sign ups in the first two weeks of launching.” 

The adventure has been brought to life with stunning illustrations commissioned from illustrator Emily Fox. 

Emily Fox said: “I am thrilled to have been able to illustrate the Secret Book Quest. As an Illustrator my background is in children’s books, so this was an exciting opportunity. I was also able to draw from my experience working in an after-school club where I helped children choose books, which certainly came in handy when designing the 10 reading zones. I hope children will enjoy taking part in the Quest and have fun exploring their local libraries!” 

The Secret Book Quest booklet is completely free and is full of puzzles, fun facts and activities. There’s no time limit on how long children can take to complete it. It has 10 themed ‘zones’ for children to travel through such as animals, underwater, space and technology. To complete the Quest and win a prize, they must read five books for each zone and collect all the code-stickers along the way – a total of 50 books. The final sticker reveals the answer to a puzzle – a secret phrase that they then say to library staff on their next visit to complete the Quest and get a prize.  

The exciting new reading challenge has received endorsements from several children’s authors and local figures including members of Exeter City Football Club. Watch the endorsements on the Libraries Unlimited YouTube channel.

The Secret Book Quest has been made possible with funding from Tesco Community Grants and the Unwin Charitable Trust which supports projects that encourage reading and literacy. It’s completely free to take part and all books in the library count including graphic novels, audiobooks and comics. 

For more information go to The website is populated with book recommendations, extra activities, new challenges and prize draws on the website for children who want to carry on reading after 50 books.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.