Our three grandkids are now out of school for a few months. While the family has some trips and other activities planned, I know their mom and dad would appreciate something to keep them occupied and excited during the time when they are stuck inside by the temperatures. After all, you can only jump in the pool so many times before a new activity is needed.
Problem solved by Gran and Grandad. First, here is the backstory. These three reading machines introduced me to a series of young adult books based on the hobby of book scavenging. The young heroine and heroes discover a real aptitude for solving puzzles and riddles, even ancient ciphers and learning about documents written with invisible ink.
A famous fiction author and local bookstore owner befriend them and soon these three kids are scouring the city for clues that lead them to locations of hidden books and finding buried treasure after following long-forgotten historical clues. Think of it as geocaching for books.
Well, this is right up my alley! Gran and I are hiding some books the kids have identified as ones they would love to own and read. Each book will be discovered only after following clues, figuring out the secret code to read where to go next, and then finding the prize.
At the moment I am discovering dozens of different ciphers and ways of hiding a message behind codes and letter substitutions, all of them geared towards the grandkid's age level. I am learning about the Ogham, Pigpen, and Atbash ciphers, the Ceasar shift code, and letter substitution puzzles. There are hundreds of websites that explain these and many other ways to making a simple message become a brain-teasing exercise in decoding.
Betty and I scouted out nearby hiding places a few weeks ago. Now I am busy writing clues in code! Their mom will join us as we let the grandkids direct our route to find what is not in obvious sight.
I emailed the author of the books to let her know of our plans, using her novels as the genesis of the activity. Within hours, she responded with excitement and obvious joy that her efforts were spurring such an inventive way of taking her fictional ideas and making them come alive. She has offered to send personalized Book Scavenger bookmarks and other materials to hide along with the books to make it all extra special. They arrived just in time!
So, later this week the kids will become book detectives, solving ciphers, following clues, and being rewarded with a book they want to read and own. Each week a different grandchild will be in charge of decoding and sleuthing.
I can't think of a better way to spend part of their summer break.