Twice Upon a Time: Gently Used Books for Kids

Written by Denise Deby.

Children's books - D. Deby

A new volunteer-led initiative is bringing new and gently used books to Ottawa families who can’t afford to buy their own.

Twice Upon a Time supports literacy by making free books available to kids up to 12 years old.

I’m a big fan of the library, which of course makes books available to all Ottawa citizens free of charge. Twice Upon A Time’s founders, who are librarians, teachers and literacy experts, say studies indicate that book ownership is one of the factors influencing success in life. Owning books means that kids can read their favourite books over and over again, too.

Alexandra Yarrow, an acting manager at the Ottawa Public Library, is the driving force behind Twice Upon a Time, which operates as a non-profit and is in the process of obtaining charitable status. Alexandra came up with the idea of collecting and redistributing books to kids who could benefit from them, as a way to encourage literacy skills and a love of reading.

Twice Upon a Time runs a “pop-up” storefront at Heartwood House (404 McArthur Ave.), where two days a week kids can come, have books read to them and take home a book.

Between its launch in May and the end of November, Twice Upon a Time had given away 1000 books to 775 kids.

Twice Upon a Time isn’t accepting book donations right now, because they’ve filled up their storage space. They do welcome volunteers, so check out the opportunities if you’re interested. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook page for the reopening of donations of good quality books.

Another way to support Twice Upon a Time is by attending their benefit concert on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. Voices in Harmony, formerly the Orpheus Choral Group, will perform some holiday favourites. Doors open at 3 p.m. for a holiday bake and craft sale, with the concert starting at 4 p.m. It’s at Trinity Anglican Church (1230 Bank St.) Tickets are $15 (children under 12 free)—check the website for information on purchasing tickets in advance.

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