One of the most common observations made by visitors to The Children’s Book Bank after seeing our bookshelves is, “These books all look new!”  I always pause and smile before I let the person know that the majority of our books are gently-used.  We take pride in this perception because there is a lot of work that goes into keeping our collection attractive to our visitors.

(SIDEBAR:  The store was designed to resemble a children’s bookstore – specifically, the set used in You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks).

Part of the “value-added” process of moving donated books onto the shelves at the Book Bank requires a thorough screening by our volunteers.  They check donated books for signs of mildew, dirt, smell and general signs of age.  Books with ripped pages, crayon drawings and broken spines are not in suitable condition to offer to our respected customers.  Those that pass muster are worthy of the term “gently-used” and sent onto the shelves for our customers to consider.

Another reason why we love gently-used is because kids are the best predictors of books that other kids will want.  The most-requested books at the Book Bank are the same series and titles that families with the resources are purchasing from bookstores.  We generally expect a lag of 1-2 years between when a book is bought at a bookstore and when it is donated to the Book Bank.  Series like Harry Potter, Wimpy Kid and Geronimo Stilton are still popular series at the Book Bank.

The supply of good-quality and gently-used children’s books in Toronto continues to astound us.  How many books do we receive daily?   The answer to that is complicated.  No two days are the same.  Some days there are no donations.  Other days, the planets aligns in such a way that brings in several people on the same day, sometimes at the same time.  We never know who is coming through our door next.  Chances are, it’s someone who loves books.

As we quickly approach four years of operation, we are still excited when a new book donor comes through the door with bags and boxes of gently-used books.   Thank you, Torontonians (and GTA-ers) for going out of your way to bring us your gently-used books so that children in Toronto who would not otherwise own books, have a chance.