Here at What Do We Do All Day? the love of books is strong! We like to inspire you to read with your children and fill their shelves with books and their days with trips to the library. But not every child has the good fortune to live in an environment that supports their literacy needs. Please give back to the community by supporting charities that give books to kids and promote literacy.
Supporting the cause of widespread childhood literacy is important to me because I found such great joy in books as a kid. Whenever I felt lost I could turn to the bookshelf and by reading stories about people like me or -- better yet -- about people I dreamed of becoming, I learned a little something about what it means to be a human being. Books help us see the possibilities of life, they keep us open-minded and teach us empathy. In short, they change the world one person at a time. (I'm being a bit dramatic, but it's how I feel!)
Why give the gift of books and literacy?
According to RIF, a significant number of children living in poverty in the United States don't have books in the home. Study after study after study demonstrates that children who are surrounded by books grow up to be more literate, educated, productive (even healthier) adults. (We don't really need a study to know that!) Showing kids the value of books is not expensive, but it is life altering.
According to First Books, "For every one book or other reading resource available to a child in a low-income neighborhood, a child of means has nearly 300."
Can you see how the literacy gap perpetuates economic and social inequality? Isn't it obvious that we should help close that gap?
Short List of Literacy Charities:
I hope you'll consider giving to one of the programs below. If you can't afford a monetary donation perhaps you can volunteer, either at a local chapter or with your local library's literacy outreach program. Alternatively, find a local organization that accepts gently used books to redistribute to kids in need, and donate a few from your home library.
A gentle reminder: before giving to any organization, I suggest reading their website and using Charity Navigator to find out if a program's appropriation of its funds are in line with your priorities.
Reading is Fundamental RIF supports literacy programs nationwide and aims to put books in the hands of underprivileged children in America. Sadly, in recent years, Congress decimated their budget.
Books for Africa's self professed goal is to "end the book famine in Africa." Books for Africa is on Charity Navigator's list of 10 Top Notch Charities, with almost all of the funds going towards program expenses. It only takes 50 cents to send a book to Africa.
First Book serves schools and libraries in underprivileged areas and delivers new books to children in need in the US and Canada.
The Pajama Program gives the gift of sleepwear and a bedtime book to children, with a large portion of donations going to children who have been, or are waiting to be, adopted.
Raising a Reader does more than just distribute books. Through nationwide programs, it works closely with children and their parents to help them develop literacy strategies like teaching them read aloud and communication techniques.
Room to Read focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in ten countries in Asia and Africa. One of my favorite things they do is promote the education of girls. As they state on the website, "Educating girls and women is widely acknowledged as the most powerful and effective way to address global poverty."
Reach Out and Read serves at-risk children and "is an evidence-based nonprofit 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."
The Reading Tub. I love this organization, too and have added it to the list. From Terry's comment, below: "It is a 100% volunteer nonprofit that works to provide caregivers free access to tools, resources, and encouragement for literacy (inclusive of all aspects, not just reading), as well as providing books to sister nonprofits who go into homes and work with families to guide them on modeling reading skills and giving books to at-risk readers, as well as Title 1 schools so that teachers can build classroom libraries."
Do you have a favorite charity that promotes literacy? Leave a comment below and let others know.