The Book Lovers’ Guide to Purging

Originally posted on Vikki VanSickle on Writing, Reading & Other Pipedreams:


Over the course of a year I amass a lot of books. I attend lots of book launches and have an endless appetite for new books, used books, novelty books, books I intend to use for research purposes for novels I want to write…and so on. What I don’t have is a lot of space. Perhaps the only thing I like as much as books is a tidy, well-ordered apartment.

Can a girl have it all, a massive library and a neat, efficient living space?

Yes, but it does require some purging. Like most book-lovers I am quite attached to my books; In fact, I am a secret sentimentalist. As a child I used to fret over which stuffed animal I would choose to sleep in my arms every night, worried I would deeply offend the others, relegated to the cold, lonely, end of the bed. Similarly, an irrational…

View original 687 more words

Book of the Month – July

Let’s welcome summer with a super fun book about a mouse that finds adventure (and trouble) with the help of a toy motorcycle. Written in 1965 by beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary, “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” is a wonderful story about friendship and courage.


As part of the 2015 BOM Reading Challenge, don’t forget to:

1) Write us a review (#BookBankReads) and we will post it to our blog

2) Tweet your thoughts on our choice to @bookbankcanada using the hashtag #bookbankreads

3) Follow @thechildrensbookbank on Instagram and post a picture of yourself reading using the hashtag #bookbankreads

A Wedding Gift For The Book Bank

Something really different crossed our desk a few weeks ago, and since we’re heading right into the heart of wedding season, we thought we’d take a moment and share it with you. It’s a truly creative, unique and community-minded way of sharing in a wedding celebration—and in a way that brings a couple’s community a little closer to ours. We were so impressed with this idea that we asked them if we could share it on our blog! Take a look at what these amazing supporters of the Book Bank asked of their wedding guests, in their own words:

We are so happy that you will be coming to our wedding. Your presence, truly, will be gift enough for us. 

However, from the moment we decided to take the plunge, it was clear to us that this event might be more than just a way for our families and friends to celebrate as a community. We also hoped it could be a means by which our community might reach out in support of another one.

To that end, in lieu of a gift to us we are hoping that you will consider joining us in support of an organization whose mission and work we believe in. The Children’s Book Bank, based in Toronto. In particular, in support of its new project: Building Babies’ Brains, otherwise known as B3. Our search to find an organization with the right “fit” began with four key words: children; health; community; local. The Book Bank hit the target. On top of that, its focus on books and literacy registers deeply with both of us.

The chief focus of The Children’s Book Bank is to provide, at no cost, books to children who otherwise could not afford them. But our interest was really piqued by what we think is an exciting off-shoot of that work. Building Babies’ Brains – The Children’s Book Bank’s B3 project – comes out of pediatric research in both Canada and the U.S. which shows that reading to children at an early age is actually a matter of health. Research also indicates that this message is more deeply received and acted upon by families when it is delivered by primary health care providers, rather than by, say, social workers.

With that in mind, the Book Bank partnered with a local health clinic in Toronto’s Regent Park. It trained front-line nurse practitioners on the message and how to deliver it; CBB helped the clinic set up a literacy-friendly waiting room and, crucially, it delivered tote-bags with age-appropriate books for children, from newborns to age 5. It has proved such a success, the Book Bank is ready to expand it to benefit other communities.

This is where we can come in. The Book Bank has agreed to use any donations we raise to bring the program’s training, waiting room design and books to another downtown health clinic. This could propel the model even further. If you are interested, we have posted a link to a donations page. Again, thanks so much for making this day such a special one for the two of us.

Wow. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! And to this generous couple—we’ve been really honoured by your idea and your initiative. Thank you for the amazing support, and congratulations!

Thorncliffe’s “All About Books”

While we always look forward to class visits at the Book Bank, one visit this winter stands out from the others. In February, Ms. Scheifele’s grade 3 class from Thorncliffe Park School had a wonderful inaugural visit to the Book Bank. As soon as they walked in, many of these visitors commented on the welcoming feel of the book bank—if you haven’t been to the Book Bank, it is well worth a visit. After warming up and listening to a couple of stories read aloud by one of our volunteers, the students had a chance to choose a book they would like to bring home. Judging by their careful, informed selections, this is a class of avid readers.

Despite the fact that it was their first visit to 350 Berkeley Street, several of the children talked about knowing the book bank already. As they came to the desk to have their books stamped, many of the kids recognized our logo from books they have at home. One boy proudly told us the number of books in his home library, now increased by one. Another child even took a Rainbow Fairies book out of her backpack stamped, “This book is a gift from The Children’s Book Bank,” now with her name to show it belongs to her.


Although these students do not live near the Book Bank, they have regular access to books through the Homework Club run by our partner organization, the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office. They are one of four partners that help us distribute books across the city through our Books Beyond Berkeley Street program.

The Thorncliffe program is called “All About Books” and runs in the Ontario Early YearsCentre (OEYC) for the first half hour of their drop-in program held every Tuesday morning, Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. Here is how it works: the parents and children arrive, browse the selection of books displayed on the book shelf and trolley and sign out the books they are taking home—one book for each child in their household up to a maximum of four per visit.


In addition to their “All About Books” program, every Thursday the Thorncliffe OEYC also has a short Show ‘n’ Tell during circle time. The children bring a book they chose from the program and, depending on their age and ability, read it to the group, tell the circle what it’s about and why they like it or help the teacher turn the pages as she reads it aloud. As you can imagine, it’s one cute little book club!


Recently one of our book bank staffers visited the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office and spoke directly with the families and children accessing this new community resource. The families that were there, and there were MANY, were all overwhelmingly grateful that the book bank and the Thorncliffe staff were providing them with this “wonderful opportunity to take home and keep free children’s books.” A few kids spoke proudly of their growing home library collection complete with If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Robert Munch books, Batman, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. At the book bank we couldn’t be more impressed with the good work being done in this community and are looking forward to a long partnership with the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office!

A CBB Board Member’s Experience…

I don’t know about you – but I tend to believe there are no accidents. Sometimes something or someone is put in your path and it isn’t a coincidence. That’s how I felt on a recent cab ride.

TI_Becca-1I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Book Bank for just about a year now – yes, I’m “new.” One night, as I was leaving an evening Board meeting, I hopped into a taxi to make my way home. It was dark, and I was tired from a long day at work, and much discussion with my fellow Board members. But then something interesting happened that changed my ride. My driver greeted me with a smile and asked whether there was some kind of event taking place at our Berkley & Gerrard Street location. He seemed enthusiastic, and like he knew about the CBB first-hand.

I explained that I was on the Board and that I was coming from a monthly meeting. He smiled again, and told me that he lived in the neighbourhood, and that his four children, two of whom started university at Ryerson last fall,
have been long-time fans and customers of the Book Bank. He said he has great respect for what the Bank does, and that his family must have nearly 100 books stamped with our little stamp in his small apartment.

If you’re not familiar with our mission as a charity that supports childhood literacy by providing free books to children in low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto, that might sound odd… but considering that the Book Bank has donated almost 400,000 in its five year history, I’m sure he wasn’t exaggerating! The Book Bank staff report that some families come in virtually every week to get a new used book for each family member.

As we travelled along Dundas Street, he told me how important reading is; that he sometimes fears his youngest son won’t develop a love for it because he is spending so much time on computers. Over and over he told me how important he thinks the CBB is, and how grateful he is for the service. Twice he mentioned how expensive books can be, and that we have been a huge help to his family.


I couldn’t believe it. This was such a wonderful and honest example of how The Children’s Book Bank makes a difference in the community – and how a significant impact can be made over time. It made me very proud to be on The Children’s Book Bank team.

-Becca Lucas
CBB Board Member

2015 BOM Reading Challenge!

During the season of New Year Resolutions, why not take our 2015 Book of the Month (BOM) Reading Challenge? The staff at The Children’s Book Bank challenges you to read all 12 BOM in 2015! Come into the book bank today to find out how to sign up.

Our first book of the year is a classic spy story, beloved by one of our lovely volunteers, “Harriet The Spy” written by Louise Fitzhugh. 11-year-old Harriet is an avid writer who is determined to become a spy when she grows up. Unfortunately, Harriet’s trusted notebook is discovered by her classmates who do not take kindly to her honest descriptions of everyone in her class and thus they form their own Spy Catcher Club!

How will Harriet resolve the situation and regain her friendships?


As part of the 2015 BOM Reading Challenge, don’t forget to:

1) Write us a review (#BookBankReads) and we will post it to our blog

2) Tweet your thoughts on our choice to @bookbankcanada using the hashtag #bookbankreads

3) Follow @thechildrensbookbank on Instagram and post a picture of yourself reading using the hashtag #bookbankreads


Mr. Men & Little Miss Drawing Contest Summary

After receiving 3 brand-new Mr. Men box sets in a donation this Fall, we decided they were so special that we would host a contest that would have these sets as prizes. We developed a simple premise, draw you favourite Mr. Men or Little Miss character. Alternatively, children could make up their own character …and we were shocked by how many did just that! Creative little children came up with Mr. Book Bank, Little Miss Nerd, Little Miss Frame, Little Miss Hats, Litte Miss Reader, Mr. Tough, and Mr. Witty.

2Little Miss Reader


Mr. Book Bank

Some of the other highlights of the contest include Mr. Witty, who was particularly remarkable since the entry included an entire storybook about the character as well as a clay figurine of Mr. Witty! We were also very excited to spread the word all the way to Vancouver, Canada. We received 4 electronic submissions from 9 year old Joaquin Rado.

 3 Mr. Witty storybook and clay figurine

4Mr. Bannas all the way from Vancouver, B.C.

We congratulate all of our contestants, your drawings were amazing and we love that you embraced this older storybook series, which was first published in the 1970s! Thanks for decorating our storefront with your Mr. Men and Little Miss creations and taking almost every single Mr. Men and Little Miss storybook in our book bank!


Little Miss Reagan & The Children’s Book Bank

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 6.00.11 PM