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!