Book Charities

I recently read a study, conducted eight years ago, that found that in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child was 13:1; in low income neighborhoods, the ratio was one book for every 300 children.  I find this unthinkable.  A child growing up without books in their home!  Upon further reading, the following statistics stood out to me.  Fewer than half (48 percent) of young children in the United States are read to daily.  Many children from low income families enter Kindergarten with a listening vocabulary of 3,000 words while children of middle/upper income families enter school with a listening vocabulary of 20,000 words.  

Really?  It should go without saying, that access to books is key to literacy.  But how do we get books to children who do not have access to them?  This is where book charities come to the rescue.    

There are many organizations out there who are working hard to improve children's lives through reading.  I have compiled the following list of charities that promote literacy and put books in the hands of children.  I hope that this will allow individuals to become aware of the good work that these groups are doing. However, the organizations are not benefiting from being included in this list.  Nor am I recommending these over any other. These groups are simply ones that I have come across in my work with children's literacy. As with any charitable donation, it is best to read about the individual charity that you are interested in and to research the validity of their efforts.  A website that I find helpful when researching a charity is Guide Star.  This site gathers and disseminates information about every single IRS-registered non profit organization.  

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) is an organization that I volunteered with when I was pregnant with Emmy. I helped box books and deliver them to schools in the Austin community.  I also worked with the librarians to pass out brand new books to children!  RIF is best explained through this fun commercial.  

Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based non profit organization of medical providers who promote 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.   

First Book provides access to new books by distributing materials to programs and schools serving children from low income families throughout the United States and Canada.  To date, First Book has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources.

Book Aid International works in partnership with libraries in Africa providing books, resources and training to support an environment in which reading for pleasure, study and lifelong learning can flourish.  Book Aid International is celebrating its 60th year!    

United Through Reading's mission is to unite military families through facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.  Deployed parents are given the opportunity to be video recorded reading storybooks to their children which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections and cultivates a love of reading.  

World Reader is a non-profit on a mission to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives.  

Room to Read is a global organization dedicated to promoting and enabling education through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education.  They achieve this goal by establishing libraries, building schools, publishing local-language children's books, training teachers on literacy education, and supporting girls to complete secondary school with the life skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond.  

The Book Bus supports schools in Africa by providing mobile library facilities and volunteer story tellers to help children become confident and literate readers for life.  

Imagination Library mails high quality, age-appropriate books directly to children's homes.  

Believe in Books 's mission is to enhance children's quality of life through exposure, education and the engagement of reading by bringing stories to life.  We have participated in The Polar Express event in Lincoln, NH every Christmas season.  It truly is magical!  

Milk & Bookies is a nationwide charitable organization that gets books into the hands of thousands of children who need them.  Through their "book raising" efforts children are given the opportunity to host their own Milk & Bookies party which fosters literacy and service learning.  

If every child received an education, 
171 million people would be 
lifted out of poverty.  
Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006

Russ S, Perez V, Garro N, Klass P, Kuo AA, Gershun M, Halfon N, Zuckerman, B. Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook (2007): Reach Out and Read National Center, Boston, MA.

Hart, B. Risley, T. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children (1995), Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

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