Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
How To

What You Can Do: Bookish Charities You Can Donate to Right Now

A.J. O'Connell

Staff Writer

A.J. O’Connell is the author of two published novellas: Beware the Hawk and The Eagle & The Arrow. All she’s ever wanted to do in life is read and write books, and so, is constantly writing at least one novel. She holds an MFA in creative fiction, but despite the best efforts of her teachers at Fairfield University's low-residency program, remains a huge dork for sci-fi, fantasy and comic books. She is a journalist and has taught journalism to college students. She blogs about feminism, the writing life, and whatever else comes into her head at Blog: A.J. O'Connell Twitter: @ann_oconnell

It’s been a long and ugly election. No matter who you voted for, or didn’t vote for, or voted against, the election was excruciating. The days after have been particularly miserable, and for many, it seems as though we’re descending into an age of willful ignorance.

But we can do something to help. There are lots of good people out there who are putting books into the hands of children, teaching grown-ups to read, getting literature into prisons and helping deployed military personnel read to their children from overseas.

We can help them do that.

Below is a list of 17ish (you’ll see what I mean) bookish charities. Some of these charities invite you to give money, some, to donate books. But not everyone can give. If you’d rather donate your time and talent, please check out this post, about ways bookish citizens can volunteer.

Book Aid International: Book Aid provides brand new books, donated by publishers, to public, community and school libraries across Africa.

Books for the Barrios: Started in 1981 by naval families stationed in the Philippines, BftB aims to improve the quality of education for underprivileged youth in deprived ­communities around the world. They ask for donations of money, not books.

First Book: First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. Since our founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families. First Book would prefer that you donate money, rather than books. (Book Riot has donated to them in the past.)

Your library: Let’s be real here. Your local library will likely be happy to accept your donations. Some libraries accept book donations, and I think it’s a safe to say that all welcome money, but check your local library’s website, or ask them what they need.

Literacy for Incarcerated Teens (LIT): The New York City Department of Juvenile Justice receives more than 7,000 young people between the ages of 8 and 16 into its custody every year; 96 percent of whom read two or more years below grade level. LIT supports the school library collections at New York City’s juvenile justice detention centers as well and works with some residential facilities and school libraries as well.

National Center for Families Learning: The NCFL advances literacy and education by working with the whole family to improve literacy.

Open Books: A Chicago-area program which provides books to schools and non-profits, as well as literacy programs. (Book Riot has donated to them in the past.)

Prison literacy programs: Almost every state’s prison system offers literacy programs for inmates. Here is a list to help you find yours.

Prison storybook projects: In these regional programs, volunteers go into the prison to record an inmate reading a bedtime story for their children. The recording and the book are then sent to the children, so they can read along. Many projects work only with women inmates, although some work with men as well. Check your area for local storybook projects, but here are a few:
Aid to Inmate Mother’s Storybook Project – Alabama
The Women’s Storybook Project – Texas
Storybook Project – This Illinois project works with men and women prisoners
CLiF’s Children of Prison Inmates Program – New Hampshire and Vermont

Project Night Night: Project Night Night creates Night Night Packages for homeless children aged 12 and under. Each Night Night Package contains a new security blanket, an age- appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal, and are intented to give the children a source of security and exposure to books during a time of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Proliteracy: About 36 million adults in the U.S. struggle with basic reading, writing and math skills. Proliteracy has been teaching adults basic literacy skills (and promoting English Language Learning, as well as high school equivalancy degrees) for more than 60 years.

Reach Out and Read: A nonprofit organization that incorporates books into pediatric care.

Reading is Fundamental: A 50-year-old organization, Reading is Fundamental provides books and literacy resources to underserved communities.

Reader to Reader: Reader to Reader is dedicated to donating books to libraries and schools across the country. They accept donations of books and money.

Room to Read: Because so many women and girls in developing nations are illiterate, Room to Read’s focus is on literacy and gender equality in education in 10 developing countries.

United Through Reading: Service members who are seperated from their families are able to record videos of themselves reading stories to their children. Those videos are sent home to the service members’ families so children can see their parent reading to them. The program is intended to help families weather the long separations of deployment, and allow the family to bond through books.

The World Literacy Foundation: One in five people, worldwide, cannot read. The World Literacy Foundation provides books, education, and technology to improve literacy all over the planet.