'Tis The Season to Do Good

Posted by Cybil on December 18, 2017

Every month, Goodreads highlights a great reading-related nonprofit for folks to volunteer with, donate to, or otherwise help. As this is the season of giving, we thought we'd share a roundup of some literary-themed charities in need of your support.

Barbershop Books
Barbershop Books is a community-based literacy program that creates friendly reading spaces in barbershops for boys. The nonprofit's mission is to help black boys between the ages of four and eight become readers by bringing books into barbershops—and involving the men who work there to help foster a love of reading. Every dollar invested in a reading space results in 27 minutes of reading in a barbershop. Find out more about the program's impact as well as how you can get involved and donate.

PEN International
Since its founding in 1921, PEN International has championed freedom of expression while helping writers of all persuasions weather censorship, imprisonment, and persecution. Its advocacy has spanned wars and decades; then-PEN president H.G. Wells campaigned against Nazi book burnings before World War II, the organization condemned the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, and today PEN is active in more than 100 countries. Its recent work includes support for mother language education around the globe as well as rallying support for writers in crisis in foreign countries. Learn more and donate.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
In 1995, country singer Dolly Parton started the nonprofit Imagination Library to promote reading in her home state of Tennessee. Today the group has donated millions of books to children in need throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Every month the Imagination Library mails more than 1 million books to children's homes, and in February the nonprofit will send its 100 millionth book. Dolly Parton's Imagination Library partners with local communities. If your community would like to get involved, learn more here.

Reach Out & Read
Reach Out & Read helps at-risk kids learn to read. Through the program, Reach Out & Read-trained doctors give books to children at each of ten well-child visits, from infancy until they start school. More importantly, it encourages families to read aloud and engage with their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers every day. You can see a list of its recommended children's books here. You can also donate here.

ProLiteracy promotes adult literacy through education, training, research, policy development, and advocacy. It works with adult learners in partnership with local, national, and international organizations. Those include volunteer-based literacy groups, the U.S. adult basic education system, and agencies that specialize in workforce readiness, health literacy, and English as another language. Learn how to get involved and donate.

Reading Is Fundamental
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is committed to inspiring a passion for reading among children and engaging with communities to give every child the fundamentals for success. With the help of thousands of RIF volunteers (as well as local chapters established throughout the country in schools, Head Start programs, community centers, health clinics, migrant camps, and homeless shelters), it provides books and literacy resources for children in communities nationwide. You can help support tomorrow's community of readers by donating to RIF. Learn more and donate.

International Rescue Committee
An estimated 28 million children who are caught up in conflict and crisis worldwide are unable to attend school. For the past 80 years, the International Rescue Committee—which helps uprooted and war-torn communities in more than 30 countries to rebuild—has provided educational opportunities for children who are fleeing violence, disaster, and instability. The IRC, which was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, operates in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. In addition to offering schooling, it trains teachers and promotes literacy, advocating that access to education gives children a vital sense of stability and opportunity during an emergency. Learn more and donate.

Learning Ally
The nonprofit Learning Ally uses educational technology to assist struggling readers who have learning differences and visual disabilities. Its cloud-based library of narrated audio textbooks and popular literature—all voiced by volunteers—gives these students access to grade-level content so they can become successful, engaged learners alongside their peers. Working with schools across the U.S., Learning Ally provides teachers with tools, training, and support to help students. Get involved and donate.

We Need Diverse Books
We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots nonprofit program that is run by children's book lovers and aims to increase the diversity of books available to young readers. The group works to promote literature featuring children's book characters who are from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, indigenous, LGBTQ, and other minority communities. We Need Diverse Books was spearheaded by author Ellen Oh and 21 other children's book writers and industry professionals. The group was founded on the belief that more diversity in children's books better reflects the world and teaches kids about our differences as well as our shared feelings and aspirations. Become a fund-raiser or volunteer.

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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message 1: by Zachary (new)

Zachary Morris Reading is Fundamental is a great charity and I often cite it as my go to for literacy donations. I did a report once on it in my Contemporary Literature class and I learned a lot about what they do and it was great!
I believe that supporting a charity you truly believe in really helps to create the vision that that charity is aspiring to achieve.

message 2: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Also, check out Raising a Reader which supports family reading by lending culturally and age appropriate books in a nifty book bag for the family to enjoy. Books returned are refreshed with new selections. Awesome organization!

message 3: by Nyla (new)

Nyla Panzilius I still have some of the books I received from Reading Is Fundamental as a child back in the 1970's! I know because they each have a RIF logo stamped on the inside cover. One thing I will always remember is that I was allowed to CHOOSE the book I wanted each time they visited our neighborhood. This was much better than just being told, "Here kid, have a free book." I will be forever grateful to the empowerment this program brought into my life.

message 4: by Marla (new)

Marla Kennedy I don't know why "Books for Africa", who sends more books than anyone, to Africa isn't included. No agenda, just getting books to Africa. You can't make a book into a gun. www.booksforafrica.org

message 5: by Merle (new)

Merle The Book Fairies (NY) also simply put books into the hands of kids. Check us out: www.thebookfairies.org

We are preparing for our one-millionth book donation in March 2018!

message 6: by Piksie (new)

Piksie Anybody know of anything similar in the U.K.?

message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter Turner Piksie wrote: "Anybody know of anything similar in the U.K.?"The Little Free Library organisation seems to be taking hold.

message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Carpi I don't know much, but really Ellen? Do you honestly think that children need to be taught about LGBTQ? I personally think that these poor children are being indoctrinated enough at public school about the perverse ways of living in this filthy last days generation. How about getting them BACK TO THE BIBLE?

message 9: by Christina (new)

Christina Frank wrote: "I don't know much, but really Ellen? Do you honestly think that children need to be taught about LGBTQ? I personally think that these poor children are being indoctrinated enough at public school a..."

Yes, I honestly think that we could all benefit with a greater understanding of diversity including gender diversity. I also believe that we would benefit from a better understanding of the religions of the world and how and why people believe what they do. Doing so helps us find commonality across the globe.

message 10: by Christina (new)

Christina Operation Paperback www.operationpaperback.org/ is another great organization proving recycled reading to active duty troops, military families, and veterans.

message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan Another great organization that focuses on reading is: www.roomtoread.org. They encourage literacy by teaching reading, especially to girls, in developing countries.

message 12: by Sheila (Ann) (new)

Sheila (Ann) Piksie above asked about similar UK organisations:

BookTrust transforms lives by getting children and families reading. BookTrust is the UK's largest children's reading charity.

UK-based library development charity working in sub-Saharan Africa to help more people discover the joy and value of reading.

A new charity that gives books to those who really need them.

Improving children's lives, one book at a time - starting in Zambia in 2008 now also in Malawi and Ecuador.

A literacy charity for all, a current project is working with literacy in UK prisons.

message 13: by Merle (new)

Merle Frank wrote: "I don't know much, but really Ellen? Do you honestly think that children need to be taught about LGBTQ? I personally think that these poor children are being indoctrinated enough at public school a..."

Maybe the Bible should be taught and used in religious schools, and the public schools should remain religion-free. That was one of the original reasons to come to America - so everyone could practice the religion of their choice and not be told what religion they HAD to follow.

message 14: by S (new)

S Bernie's Book Bank provides disadvantaged children in the Chicago area with 12 books per year per child for 12 years: https://www.berniesbookbank.org

message 15: by Serena (new)

Serena I would also recommend volunteering at your local Friends of the Public Library organization. Depending on where you live, many of them have events throughout the year, including their public sales that help raise money for local libraries.

message 16: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Check out We Stories http://www.westories.org/ that builds on the work of We Need Diverse Books and uses diverse children's literature to strengthen family conversation around race and racism.

message 17: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Frank wrote: "I don't know much, but really Ellen? Do you honestly think that children need to be taught about LGBTQ? I personally think that these poor children are being indoctrinated enough at public school a..."

Don't restrict books, teach your children to self-censor. I would never tell my children or any one else's what to read.

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