Friday, June 2, 2023

Unplug at the Book and Gnome Scavenger Hunt

Photo courtesy of Unplug Collaborative

Who doesn’t love the thrill of a scavenger hunt? Especially when it involves books, gnomes, and fairies. Get ready on August 7 from 10 am to 2 pm to join the Little Free Library Scavenger Hunt to solve clues, find books, and earn prizes.

This fun family event is sponsored by the Unplug Collaborative which is tied into the National Day of Unplugging. The first Little Free Library (LFL) Scavenger Hunt was held last March with approximately 2,000 participants across North America. Director of Strategic Planning Claudia Erickson is enthusiastic about books and the event. She even has a red outhouse shaped Little Library at her home and loves the fun-loving nature of gnomes.

“For the first one, we were hoping to get 10 signed up and had an amazing response with 41. Everyone loved it and felt like it was a little thing to get people off their phones for a short time,” she comments. She and Executive Director Kim Cavallo came together to form the Unplug Collaborative and have plans to expand unplugging opportunities. They have now designated the first Saturday in March and August for the LFL Scavenger Hunts every year. Erickson says they anticipate 60 hunts worldwide, each with seven to fifteen stops, some at houses and some at businesses. Anyone can participate in the hunt or sign up to be a stop on the scavenger hunt, even without a Little Free Library at their home. Some people do pop up libraries out of wagons, dog carriers, or on tables in front of their home to join in on the fun.

Can you find Mr. Toad’s Garden Little Free Library here in Coronado?

Jennifer Lund is the Coronado event coordinator, and she reports that 11 LFL’s have signed up so far, as well as Bay Books and Tiny Town, which goes perfectly with the theme. On event day, August 7, participants will meet to pick up a map detailing clues to uncover each stop. For more details, check out Mr. Toad’s Garden Little Free Library on Facebook. This is a great chance to unplug and get outside, ride your bike, find books and gnomes, and win prizes,” comments Lund. A devoted book lover since childhood, Lund has had a Free Little Library, that a friend gifted her, in front of her house for the past five years.

Coronado has embraced the LFL movement with several dozen here and that number continues to grow. Some are created by individuals in their front yard, while others are in public spaces sponsored by organizations like Friends of the Coronado Library and Girl Scout Troops, with some built by Eagle Scouts. They were especially popular during the pandemic and just this month, I saw a new one pop up on A Avenue. The movement began back in 2009 in Wisconsin and has grown exponentially worldwide ever since. Laurie Ruiz de Castilla placed the first official LFL in Coronado in 2015 on Pomona Avenue (it has since been moved to Fourth Street where she lives now). LFL Steward Cara Irigoyen, who spearheaded the one at Dog Beach, in honor of her father who instilled her love of Coronado and books, has a vision to spread the book love and is researching the possibility of providing one for our neighbors in Chicano Park. Studies show that any form of reading is good for both kids and adults alike, but retention is higher with paper books. I personally think that nothing beats the smell and feel of a real book.

Photo courtesy of Unplug Collaborative

It’s easy to sign up for the Scavenger Hunt, but you must use technology to do it. Scan a QR code found at a LFL, sign up online: or or text “gnome” to 323-594-8628 to receive the first clue. Participants will be sent the first clue on August 6, the day before the event. At the first LFL stop, partakers will be given the complete scavenger hunt list.

Erickson says, “Our vision is to turn communities into unplugged villages where people value in-person connections.” San Diego is leading the way with nine neighborhoods organizing hunts including: Coronado, El Cajon, Escondido, La Mesa, North/South Park, Oceanside, San Carlos, Santee, and University City. She notes they are developing future unplugging events with rock painting and beach art themes. To learn more about unplugging, check out their website at

Photo courtesy of Unplug Collaborative

P.S. Mr. Toad’s Garden Little Free Library is located on F Avenue between 4th and 5th

Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]