Teacher hides children’s literature-themed rocks in St Albans to be found by eager bookworms

PUBLISHED: 09:18 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:18 20 August 2018

Ella Dickson's book cover-painted rocks. Picture: Ella Dickson

Ella Dickson's book cover-painted rocks. Picture: Ella Dickson

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A St Albans teacher has been hiding hand-painted rocks decorated as tiny book covers to encourage children to visit the library.

Mr Stink by David Walliams. Picture: Ella DicksonMr Stink by David Walliams. Picture: Ella Dickson

Ella Dickson, 39, who teaches maths at Beaumont School, was inspired to decorate the rocks to look like famous children’s books after joining the Facebook group St Albans Rocks UK, where members of the public decorate rocks and hide them around the city or post pictures of painted rocks they have found.

So far, she has decorated rocks to look like the covers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, James and the Giant Peach, Swallows and Amazons and more.

Robbie finds The 13-Storey Treehouse rock. Picture: Ella DicksonRobbie finds The 13-Storey Treehouse rock. Picture: Ella Dickson

Three of the rocks have already been hidden near Marshalswick Library in The Ridgeway, and have been discovered by local children.

Ella got involved in St Albans Rocks as an activity for her Beaver pack, and decided to paint her own rocks with her sons Seth, 10, and Jonah, seven.

Harry, seven, finds James and the Giant Peach rock. Picture: Ella DicksonHarry, seven, finds James and the Giant Peach rock. Picture: Ella Dickson

She said: “I was trying to think of what I could do as I am not very artistic but I can copy other people’s art. And I thought of book covers and did Harry Potter - then I got a bit addicted!

“My boys love them and love the idea of others finding them.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Picture: Ella DicksonHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Picture: Ella Dickson

Ella hopes that finding the rocks will encourage children to visit the library and read books over the summer holidays. Her sons are taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge, which asks children age four to 11 to read six library books over the summer.

She said: “I thought of hiding them by the library as I live nearby and I thought it might encourage a few visits, which wouldn’t be a bad thing! Parents on Facebook are getting very excited.

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Picture: Ella DicksonThe 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Picture: Ella Dickson

“Libraries are such an important local resource for everyone.”

Each year, Ella also makes a set of maths revision biscuits for her pupils after she has finished teaching them, with maths problems and equations written intricately in icing on the top, and she has made a knitted doll of her son’s teacher as an end-of-year gift.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein. Picture: Ella DicksonThe Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein. Picture: Ella Dickson

Anyone who wants to hide their own painted rocks should varnish them after painting and avoid sticking things to them, to protect the environment. Rocks can be shared at https://www.facebook.com/groups/stalbansrocks

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Picture: Ella DicksonSwallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Picture: Ella Dickson

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Picture: Ella DicksonJames and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Picture: Ella Dickson

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Picture: Ella DicksonNoughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Picture: Ella Dickson

Ella Dickson painting rocks. Picture: Ella DicksonElla Dickson painting rocks. Picture: Ella Dickson

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