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Giving Back with Books

January 1, 2011

Although the holiday season of giving is now officially over, that is no reason to forget that there are others in need.  Yes, the times are hard, but there are other ways to give back than financial donations.  You can give of your time, materials, and supplies as well.

As readers, we already know the value of a book.  We already know what it’s like to sit down for an hour or two (or several) and enjoy a good story.  If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are educated to some degree, even if you didn’t go to college or graduate high school.  You can read, and that is a wondrous accomplishment in and of itself.  However, even in a largely literate world, there are still children who are not taught how to read or write because the resources are not available.  There are still people who may have that training but be unable to enjoy it because there are no libraries available to them.  As those a little more fortunate, we can help, and we can do it at any time of the year.

Here’s a list of some US book/reading charities to spark ideas:

Book Charities

Books for International Goodwill (B.I.G.)
Their mission: “B.I.G. provides services for recycling books discarded by current owners and putting them in the hands of new users.”  This group is now based in Annapolis, MD but has been active for 15 years.  If you’re cleaning out your personal library, check them out.

Books From the Heart
Their mission: “Books From The Heart™ finds books that are not being used and gets them to where they’re needed most…into the hands of poor children and onto the empty shelves at school libraries.”  You can volunteer, donate, and also register to organize a book drive in your area.

Darien Book Aid Plan
Their mission: “Book Aid sends books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers,  libraries and schools all over the world   Books are also donated to libraries, prisons, hospitals, and Native American and Appalachian groups in the United States.”  Based in Connecticut, Book Aid is a long-established charity that is entirely volunteer based.

First Book
Their mission: “First Book provides new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books.”  This charity has its origins in Washington, DC and is still based there but serves reading programs nationwide.

International Book Project
Their mission: “The International Book Project is an international nonprofit whose mission is to promote education and literacy while broadening Americans’ understanding of their neighbors by sending quality used books overseas. Each year IBP sends more than 150,000 books to schools, libraries, churches, nonprofits, and Peace Corps volunteers in over 40 developing countries.”  They are based in Kentucky.

Kids in Need, Books in Deed
Their mission: “A nonprofit organization that brings free books and free author visits to Kids in Need throughout the state of Florida.”  This charity is newer, and only serves the state of Florida.  I like the idea of author visits though, that’s pretty cool.

Little Red Wagon Foundation
Their mission:  To bring awareness to the plight of homeless children and to provide school supplies, books, and food to the homeless and needy.  Their website is blindingly red and a little hard on the eyes, but this kid who started the charity is pretty amazing.

Reach Out and Read
Their mission: “Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.”  An interesting idea and group, they’ve been around since 1989 and are based in Massachusetts.

The Comic Book Project
Their mission: “The Comic Book Project engages children in a creative process leading to literacy reinforcement, social awareness, and character development, then publishes and distributes their work for other children in the community to use as learning and motivational tools.”  I checked out their website, and it’s a really cool idea.  This charity is relatively new, only established in 2001, but they seem to be enjoying success nationwide.

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