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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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