Your child’s favourite bedtime story sits atop a teetering pile of books in their room, gathering dust. It hasn’t been touched for months, because he or she is just getting too old for it — along with hundreds of others. It’s a familiar story: kids get books for gifts and hand-me downs. Soon, that sweet little bookshelf lovingly bought for junior is groaning under their weight. And parents get that familiar itch: time to de-clutter! But when it comes to giving them away, you want to make sure they get into the hands of those who would really appreciate them. Here is a list of some resources from across the country who will gladly take your kids’ tomes.
Share a beloved classic with eager new fans
Many children have never had the experience of actually owning their own books. The Children’s Book Bank in Toronto collects books for children aged 0 to 12 years old. At the Bank, kids from low-income neighbourhoods can have the experience of browsing all the books and selecting one to take home, free of charge. What better way to teach your children to spread a love of literacy? The Book Bank also recently won a worldwide competition to encourage reading. The jury selected the Book Bank, “because it is a very simple system of book recycling.” As well, judges said they idea can be replicated in many other communities. If you have the skills, why not help establish a similar institution in your area?
Checkout a love of reading
Your local library will often accept donations of gently used books. After all, libraries loan out hundreds of thousands of books per year, and they eventually need replacing. The Winnipeg Public Library accepts donations of books, especially more current volumes. If they’re not suitable for use in the library, they will be sold in book sales to raise money for new ones. The Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association also accepts children’s books, among others, which it sells in its various used bookstores and sales. This in turn helps raise more than $250,000 a year for the Ottawa Public Library, which means more Lemony Snicket and Captain Underpants for the kids. A win-win! Note: It’s best to contact your local branch to see what they’re looking for before you bring in a box.
Help schools in Canada’s North
Two Oakville, Ont. sisters have shown what a difference donated books can make. When Julia and Emma Mogus learned about the inequities in the northern communities that make literacy for aboriginal youth a challenge, they committed themselves to improving the situation. Since 2012, Books with No Bounds has sent more than 35,000 books to close to 50 First Nations communities, and they’re always hungry for more. The organization also provides a great way for your kids to get involved and learn about helping others, as they encourage fundraisers and book drives in schools to help with shipping costs.
Large, cross-Canada used-goods stores such as Value Village, Goodwill, and Mennonite Central Committee stores accept kids’ books along with other donations. At Goodwill, donations help those in need of jobs, while Value Village uses donations to help fundraise for local nonprofits. At MCC stores, proceeds raised from the kindness of others go toward global peace and justice work. If you live in the Calgary area, Books Between Friends is a used book store you can feel good about donating to. It sells books, along with DVDs and other items to raise tens of thousands for a wide variety of local charities — giving right back to the Calgary community.
Host your own book drive/fundraiser
While it’s sometimes easier just to write a cheque to your favourite charity, why not use this opportunity to have the kids take charge? Gather used children’s books from friends and neighbours and host a kiddie book sale in your yard — with all of the funds going to the charity of your choice. For example, The Breast Cancer Foundation of Canada can help you create your own event, in which funds will go toward the cause. They also have a Caring Kids Corner which encourages children to put their own spin on fundraising, so let their imaginations go wild — you’ll be amazed at what they end up putting together!
Many children in developing countries are desperate to learn to read but severely lacking in reading material. Luckily, there are ways to get your used kids’ books there. Try Books For Africa, which ships textbooks, fiction and non-fiction, to schools, or assist children in one of North America’s poorest nations, Haiti, at Haiti Reads. Many churches also accept book donations which are then sent on to developing nations.