Book Love

17 US-Based Charities That Put Books in the Hands of Children

Books are the best. They take you to faraway places and make you feel more at home in the world. They introduce you to new ideas and deepen connections with the things you love.

But not everyone has access to books—according to The World Literacy Foundation, more than 60% of low-income families in the USA have no children’s books in their home, and there is a 30 million word gap (the difference in the total number of words spoken to children by the age of three) between children from the wealthiest and poorest families. As a result, twenty-five million children cannot read proficiently.

The charities below work hard every single day to get books and literary resources into the lives of the kids who need them the most in America. If you have time, funds, or books, consider volunteering or making a donation!

Book charities

1. 2,000 Libros

2,000 Libros is a book donation drive that sends books to undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their families.

2. Books for Kids

With a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children, Books for Kids creates libraries, donates books, and implements literacy programs to develop the critical early foundation and skills which young children need to be successful in life.

3. The Book Foundation

With the help of volunteers, The Book Foundation utilizes events, programs, and partnerships to ignite a passion for reading in children. Since 2014, they have given away 85,000 books to more than 35,000 kids.

4. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.

5. First Book

Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book creates equal access to quality education—making everything from brand new, high quality books and educational resources, to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more—affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need.

6. Kids Need to Read

Kids Need to Read aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged children by providing inspiring book collections and engaging literacy programs to underfunded schools, libraries, and organizations across the nation.

7. Link to Libraries

Link to Libraries works as a regional distributor of books to underserved youth in Western Massachusetts—many of the children we have helped have never previously owned a book. As of now, the organization has donated 500,000 new books and 5,000 gently used books to local children and school libraries.

8. Little Free Library

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Through the libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

9. Literacy for Incarcerated Teens

This organization provides curriculum-approved books and reading materials for young adult readers from the ages of 8 to 17 who are in New York City-based juvenile justice detention centers. They also coordinate author visits, and organize book discussions.

10. Open Books

This nonprofit provides readers of all ages in Chicago with engaging, appropriate, and high-quality books. They also have literacy programs that focus on cultivating safe learning environments for practice, exploration, and social-emotional growth, and access to high-quality books and tailored curricula.

11. Pajama Program

Pajama Program works to gift children in shelters and temporary housing with pajamas and books, ordinary objects that transform bedtime into a ritual of love, warmth, imagination and fun.

12. Project Night Night

Project Night Night helps homeless children have sweeter dreams. Each year, they deliver over 25,000 Night Night Packages to children 12 and under—each kit has a new security blanket, a book, and a stuffed animal in a tote bag.

13. Reach Out and Read

With unparalleled access to families with young children, Reach Out and Read partners with medical providers to give books to children at more than 10 well-child visits from infancy until they start school. They also encourage families to read aloud and engage with their infants, toddlers and preschoolers every day.

14. Read Conmigo

This national bilingual literacy organization provides free children’s books in English and Spanish so Latino parents and children can read aloud together. To date, Read Conmigo has distributed over 1 million books to families, schools and libraries nationwide.

15. Read Early and Daily (R.E.A.D.)

R.E.A.D. offers families in need an opportunity to choose and receive every month one new, quality, culturally relevant, free book with enrichment tips for each child in the household ages birth to five years old, plus the opportunity to attend family reading playgroups.

16. Reading is Fundamental

As the nation’s largest children’s literacy non-profit, Reading Is Fundamental maximizes every contribution to ensure all children have the ability to read and succeed. Through various programs and partnerships, they provide opportunities for children and their families to experience the life-changing impact of reading.

17. We Need Diverse Books

In addition to advocating for the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people, We Need Diverse Books has a variety of programs that place diverse books in classrooms and libraries across the country.

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Do you have a favorite local or national charity that helps give books to kids? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Jenna Homen

Jenna Homen

Content and Community Manager at Chronicle Books. When she's logged off, she can be found painting, cooking, camping, or petting her dog Harley. You can follow her on Twitter at @jn_na.
Jenna Homen

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14 Comments

  • sue kaplan November 27, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Over 500,000 new books distributed to under served youth since 2008. in western MA and Ct.

    Reply

  • sue kaplan November 27, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    new books to undeserved youth in Massachusetts and CT.
    Over 500,000 new books distributed since 2008.

    Reply

  • Mary November 28, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    I think #12 should be “Reach Out and Read”. 🙂

    Reply

  • Summer Parrish November 28, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Read Early And Daily (READ) serves families in Arlington, VA, and allows them to choose and receive a new, culturally relevant book to keep each month so they can build their home library. They also get invited to play groups focused on literacy skills.

    Reply

  • Trudy Bouligny November 30, 2018 at 1:33 am

    The Calistoga Soroptimist Club gives 3 new books a year to all 500 elementary students to take home to keep. Community Read Aloud Partners read weekly in all 23 classes to insure children to enjoy favorite books. K and 1st graders receive bilingual books to encourage parents to read to their children School has 78% Hispanic students. Police chief, City manager, nurse, newspaper editor, retirees and young professionals are part of the team.

    Reply

  • Bianca Munoz November 30, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Here in North Carolina and in several other states, we have the Dolly Parton Imagination Library 🙂
    https://imaginationlibrary.com/

    Reply

  • Frances Zazueta November 30, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Great list! We also love Read Conmigo, a national bilingual literacy organization that provides free children’s books in English and Spanish! Families can sign up to download free eBooks at ReadConmigo.org or receive new books mailed to their home. As of today, Read Conmigo, sponsored by Infinity Insurance, has donated over 1,000,000 million books to families, schools, and libraries nationwide.

    Reply

  • Sarah Gossage November 30, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Great list but you are missing Better with Books, a Los Angeles based literacy organization doing incredible good with little to no overhead for fundraising and admin. Since its launch in 1993 Better with Books has delivered over 750,000 high quality books to underserved children and their families throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area.

    Our mission is to bring new books and learning resources to children living on or below the poverty line and to break the relentless cycle of poverty by giving at risk youth the key skill to improve their lives: literacy.

    Reply

  • Marlene Zeiler December 8, 2018 at 10:10 am

    We give books to Head Start programs and Title#1 pre-kindergarten Elementary Schools in 2 counties in Atlanta. We have given out over 60.000 books. We rely on donations from businesses, churches, synagogues, school children, girl and boy scouts, and where every there are children we have outgrown their books .We rely on adults and students who wish to help children from low-income families to get ready for kindergarten. There are many children who have never had books of their own. We give each child, in the programs we visit, a bag of books of their own.

    We hope we can help these small children to start a life of reading and success.

    Reply

  • Denise Corbo December 10, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Hi Jenna,
    StoryBook Treasures is a grassroots, teacher founded, national non-profit with the mission of putting the best books into the hands of children who need them the most. We provide an all-inclusive literacy enrichment program delivering books, treasures, educational materials, professional development and powerful curriculum to teachers, students and families in our neediest communities. SBT establishes strong literacy connections and a platform for bridging the school to home family engagement connection, and book ownership to help children build their own home libraries. Through word of mouth, in just 3 years SBt has grown from 200 students to 6,000 students across 5 states. Thanks for letting me share and one day SBT hopes to make your list of wonderful organizations putting stories in the hearts and books into the hands of children across our nation!
    Thanks,
    Denise

    Reply

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