Category Archives: Book Bank Storefront

A Message from our Executive Director, Mary Ladky


I’m delighted to be writing a post in my new role as Executive Director of The Children’s Book Bank, located on Berkeley Street in downtown Toronto. For me, having the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization is, no overstatement, a dream come true. The really short version of why that’s the case is this: I’ve always been a reader, always deeply connected to the reading experience, and have always believed that the act of reading is truly human: it is joyful, engaged with the other, civil (as opposed to the merely polite) and genuinely empathetic. Honesty moment: I preferred reading books to completing school work, still prefer reading fiction to non-fiction, and yearned for the chance to share my joy of reading with others. Thankfully, it’s worked out for me. Eventually, I made the connection between reading and being successful at school, completing my doctoral studies at OISE/UT in 2005. I started teaching English way back in 1988; it was a vocation which propelled me and my family to living in rural New York state, Beijing during Tiananmen Square, Montreal, Hong Kong and, finally, Peterborough, Ontario where I was fortunate enough to instruct hard-working and eager Bachelor of Education students at Trent University from 2004 until 2012. A professional highlight for me before coming to the CBB is, without a doubt, my recent visit to Tanzania where I watched and learned from the dedicated educators at the Mwanga Secondary School for Girls outside Arusha. At the heart of the school’s mission, as at the CBB, is a strong belief in supporting the independent agency of every child to succeed as a learner, a reader and, ultimately, as an informed citizen of their communities, close to home and further afield.

A Message from First Nations School of Toronto Teacher, Malia Mitha

Over the past several years the students at First Nations School of Toronto, which is a specialized school in the Toronto District School Board located at Dundas St. and Broadview Ave., have been able to visit the Children’s Bookbank. Each experience walking over to the book bank has been an exciting time for the students as they are emergent readers and always look forward to the opportunity to scour the bookshelves looking for books of interest to take home.

As the grade 1/2 teacher at First Nations School, I really value this experiential excursion because it reinforces the importance of reading, in addition to the joy it brings. Each visit begins with preselected read alouds, which always peak the interest of students, as they are well written books that are rich and engaging. Personally I find the opportunity to listen to a great read a bonding experience for the students and myself as they witness how for those fifteen minutes nothing else matters expect what is being heard and experienced in our imagination.


On behalf of our school community we would like to acknowledge the cherished gift we have each year to visit the Children’s Bookbank multiple times. As an educator I will continue to commit time in our school year to visit the friendly staff at the book bank seeing that picking up a book is often not part of the students daily routine in this age of rapid technology development, nor is it always possible due to financial constraints to have access to a plethora of great literature at home.

-Malia Mitha, Grade 1/2 Teacher, First Nations School of Toronto


Meet Volunteer and Board Member, Patricia


Founder, Kim Beatty with volunteer and board member, Patricia Sculthorpe.                       Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick

“I think I need to do something more meaningful with my time.” Those were the words I blurted out two and a half years ago to my friend Jane, at the gym where we both work out. Jane paused in the middle of lifting a kettle bell. She’s one of those people whose eyes truly twinkle when she’s excited. Her eyes twinkled madly and she asked, “Have you heard of The Children’s Book Bank?”

I hadn’t. But as a former marketing director at a publishing house, the mother of 3 (mostly grown) children, and a lifelong bookworm whose favourite places are libraries and bookstores, I soon agreed to visit The Book Bank with her to check it out.

Like everyone who crosses the threshold at 350 Berkeley, I was instantly entranced by the magical atmosphere of the place. The sun was streaming in through the windows, children were choosing books, babies were crawling on the floors, cheerful volunteers were suggesting good read-aloud picture books to parents, and the whole place hummed with the joy of people pleased to be surrounded by books, artfully displayed and available for free. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to curl up in the giant leather chair in the front room and start reading myself!

I was lucky enough in the next few months to be invited on to the Board of the Book Bank and soon after became a volunteer once a week. I was quickly humbled by the strength and expertise of the staff (moving books is almost as good a workout as weightlifting at the gym!) and the knowledge of the other volunteers, many of whom are retired schoolteachers or librarians. I’m constantly staggered by the commitment of both the Book Bank’s founder and by the other Board members and the volunteers. I love being around people who care so much about getting books into the hands of small people who might not otherwise have books at home. I’m pleased that I was able to inspire my daughter to run a book drive at her school, resulting in a donation of over a thousand books. But I am also aware that The Children’s Book Bank gives away 10,000 books a month, 6,000 of which are given away from its main location, with another 4,000 being distributed through our partners in various high needs areas in the GTA. Which means The Children’s Book Bank needs at least 10 book drives like the one my daughter ran, every month of the year!

In our Board meetings we talk strategy about growing the effectiveness and reach of The Children’s Book Bank and discuss ways to fundraise to keep this vital place open, staffed and stocked with great books. There are always challenges, but the passion around the table for making a difference in the lives of our customers, is inspiring.

At the end of the day, I’m just proud to be part of such an amazing organization. And I can say now to Jane, who is a former Board Director, that my life is definitely more meaningful since The Children’s Book Bank became part of it. Thanks Jane.



1000 in 1 Day / Storybook Photo Booth

As part of the 100in1Day Toronto events happening all over the city, The Children’s Book Bank is hoping to collect 1000 kids’ books (1000 in 1 Day) to add to our inventory.

We’ll also be setting up a Storybook Photo Booth, with props and costumes, so your little ones can dress up as some of their favourite Storybook Characters. And you’ll be able to take a snapshot home of you with you for free, courtesy of Downtown Camera.

So cull your bookshelves (or visit your local bookstore and buy a few) and come spend the day with us at the Book Bank. And don’t forget to tell your friends!


Check out our 2014-2015 Annual Report

CBB Annual Report 2015 WEB2 CBB Annual Report 2015 WEB3

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

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

New Contest Alert!

Draw a Mr. Men or Little Miss character, or make up your own, for a chance to WIN A PRIZE!

Please print our Mr. Men and Little Miss Contest page and submit your drawing to the book bank by November 29th, 2014. Don’t forget to write out the name of the Mr. Men or Little Miss character, your name/age, and your telephone number.

Winners will be chosen on Dec 1st, 2014 and notified via telephone.
We can’t wait to see what our little artists come up with!


After School Reading Buddies

Are you in high school and an avid reader?

Looking for volunteer hours?

Do you enjoy reading with children in a one-on-one situation?

The Children’s Book Bank is seeking energetic and personable high school students to become our new After School Reading Buddies candidates! The Children’s Book Bank is a registered charity in Regent Park that provides free books to children in the Toronto area. Want to find out more? Visit and take a sneak peek at what we do; you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube!

This volunteer program will run after school between 4:00pm-6:00pm. We will select 4 students; each student will volunteer once a week between October-December 2014. Applicants must be sure that they can dedicate one afternoon per week, regardless of school or extra curricular activities.

Under the leadership of our Director of Inventory and Outreach, Reagan Walton, candidates will be responsible for:

  • Helping customers make good book choices
  • Establishing relationships with children in after school groups
  • Reading to and encouraging reluctant readers
  • Tidying and organizing the store shelves
  • Working behind the counter and keeping track of book counts
  • Assisting with incoming book donations
  • General cleaning responsibilities (including sanitizing, dusting, sweeping)
  • Special tasks assigned by Reagan Walton

If this sounds like something that interests you, please email a completed Reading Buddies Application Form to The Children’s Book Bank’s Director of Inventory and Outreach, Reagan Walton: Applications must be received by October 1st, 2014.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to help kids find free books!