As the darkest time of the year nears, all of our hearts turn to one another. What better gift to give this season—whether you are lighting a candle Dec. 16 or storytelling and singing with family for Christmas or Kwanzaa—than the gift of reading?
A new book is, sadly, not within the means of all. The events in Ferguson, Missouri were a stark reminder of the disparity within our nation’s communities, and by extension among our libraries and schools. Many book lovers felt powerless—and then we heard that the Ferguson public library was acting as school, haven, and community meeting place. “Our doors are wide open, and we will help any way we can,” library director Scott Bonner said. “We’re doing what libraries do. Libraries do things to better the community all the time.” You can still donate to the library here.
This year, make a tradition of giving to one of the many charities that work to get books into children’s hands. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Book Bus
The Book Bus aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia, and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them. Their library work, book donations, and assisted reading programs help strengthen the reading culture in schools.
First Book is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books to schools and programs serving children in need across North America. They also partner with authors through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud into well-child visits.
Reader to Reader
Reader to Reader is dedicated to bringing books, free of charge, to under-resourced school libraries and public libraries in the United States’ poorest communities, including inner-city schools, Native American reservations, and poor rural towns.
Room to Read
Room to Read works in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and supports girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond.
Reading is Fundamental
Reading Is Fundamental, the largest literacy nonprofit in the United States, motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most.
826 National, with seven writing and tutoring centers across the U.S., is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. This one is about kids writing their own books!
These act nationally and internationally—but if you have a favorite local group or library that needs support, tell us in the comments. For me, I’m making my donation today to Room to Read.