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Twice Upon a Time - Free Books for Ottawa Kids

Registered Name: Twice Upon A Time/Il Etait Deux Fois

Business No: 803095777RR0001

We provide free books to children 0 -12 years to support literacy and a love of reading through book ownership

Twice Upon a Time - Free Books for Ottawa Kids


Who we are

Founded in 2014, Twice Upon a Time is a completely volunteer-run organization that gives free books to children in Ottawa, Ontario. Specifically, we give new and nearly new books, in English and French, to children from 0 to 12 years old, to support literacy and foster a love of reading at home. 

We believe that choosing a book for a child to keep creates pride in book ownership, ensures accessibility of materials, and helps develop a love of reading. We know that families are more likely to read and re-read books when they are continuously available in the home. Increased exposure to books improves early literacy skills, school readiness, and academic performance.

Since Twice Upon a Time began in 2014, we have given away nearly 40,000 books.

What we do

We create welcoming spaces and opportunities for children to choose books of their own to keep for free, to improve their literacy skills, nurture their imaginations, and bring a love of reading into their homes.

Our books are obtained through donations and purchases and are carefully sorted to ensure that the books we give to children are in new or nearly new condition and meet the needs of a diverse community.

Children and their families can choose books at our pop-up bookstores and self-serve bookshelves. We also provide books to community partners working with vulnerable children in and around Ottawa.

The following values guide our work:

  • Book ownership
  • Equity
  • Diversity
  • Child-focussed
  • Literacy
  • Accountability
  • Social and emotional development advocate
  • Building relationships (in and with the community)

We are currently working on a new service delivery model to determine how we can continue to best to serve our young readers and service delivery partners in 2024 and beyond.

Give today to help grow young minds

One of the largest obstacles to literacy is a lack of access to books. While many families bring their children to the library, many do not or cannot. Book ownership is expensive and not all families can afford to purchase books. Past studies have shown that 25% of children in Ottawa live in poverty. With your support, Twice Upon a Time helps these families give their children a rich literacy environment at home.

By making a financial donation to Twice Upon a Time, donors ensure that more books are available for Ottawa children. With the support of our community, we can continue to share the love of reading with children across the city and contribute to better health and learning outcomes.

Our partners

Twice Upon a Time works with the following community organizations on a regular basis. Children and parents served by these organizations have access to free books provided by Twice Upon a Time:


c/o Heartwood House

404 McArthur Ave


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