9 Books That Benefit Great Causes Around The World

The only thing better than a good book is a good book that goes towards a great cause. Plenty of authors are donating the proceeds of their books to charity these days — and others (like a few of the authors on this list) wrote their books for specifically that purpose. Talk about doing your part to make the world a better place — writing an entire book is no small feat, after all.

Writers have a long history of being active in social justice, charitable causes, and other efforts that go towards changing the world (just ask some of these politically-motivated writers.) Even the act of writing itself can be a charitable act — who hasn’t felt happier, more inspired, or better understood after reading a favorite title or two? And I know that a TON of the causes I dedicate myself to — women’s rights, immigration, prison reform — have been further inspired by books. All of the books on this list make an effort to support everything from refugee rights, to criminal justice reform, to education equality, to animal rights (one even helps out an animal I’d never heard of before!) As a book lover, you definitely don’t want to miss these.

Here are nine books that benefit great causes around the world.

1. Is It Evil Not To Be Sure? by Lena Dunham

Earlier in May, actress and writer Lena Dunham surprised fans with the publication of a previously-unpublicized book: Is It Evil Not To Be Sure? Proceeds from the chapbook book, which is a collection of Dunham’s diary entries from 2005 and 2006, are being donated to the mentoring program Girls Write Now, which pairs young women writers with professional mentors who guide them in everything from improving their artistic craft to applying for college. While Is It Evil Not To Be Sure? has sold out all 2,000 print copies, it is still available in e-book.

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2. For Pete’s Sake by Abbey Lemons and Aiden Lemons

A book that truly gives me faith in the future of our world, For Pete’s Sake is a children’s story written by two middle-school-aged siblings, Abbey and Aiden Lemons. The book was written after their experience learning about endangered orangutans at the Orangutan Foundation International Care Center in Borneo, where they met an orangutan named Pete, who inspired the title character of the book. A portion of the proceeds of For Pete’s Sake will fund Pete and his fellow orangutan friends being returned to the wild, via the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve. There’s even a hashtag for it: #SavePete.

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3. The Survival Girls: A Nonfiction Novella by Ming Holden

When writer, artist, and development worker Ming Holden traveled to Kenya in 2011 to organize a short-term performance project with Congolese refugees for World Refugee Day. But by the end of Holden’s seven weeks there, her simple goal had grown into something much greater: The Survival Girls, a women's empowerment and artistic expression group, made up of young women living as refugees in Nairobi. Proceeds of The Survival Girls: A Nonfiction Novella — which tells the stories of Holden’s experience founding The Survival Girls — go towards supporting the organization.

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4. What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur by Book Wish Foundation

Over a decade ago the government of Darfur began a genocide against Darfur’s citizens, killing over 300,000 people and displacing millions more — and the crisis continues in the region today. So five years ago some of your favorite writers came together — from John Green and Meg Cabot, to Ann M. Martin and Joyce Carol Oats — to write a book of short stories that would continue to draw awareness to the crisis in Darfur, while honoring and celebrating the courage and hope of Darfur’s displaced people. The result is What You Wish For, a book of stories about wishes, large and small, funny and inspiring.

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5. Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney

Anna Dewdney’s children’s book, Roly Poly Pangolin tells the story of a creature I didn’t even know existed until I stumbled across this book — and now I seriously want to help save it, so the book is clearly doing its job; good going, Dewdney. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the surprisingly adorable reptile-like mammal, a pangolin looks like a cross between an anteater and an armadillo, and in addition to being the world’s only scale-covered mammal, it is also the world’s most-hunted animal. So, spread some of that Cecil-the-lion-inspired outrage around and use it to save Roly Poly pangolin too. Pangolins are hunted for their scales, which are attributed with almost mythical healing powers (but seriously, that’s what penicillin was invented for, so I say let the pangolin’s live.) In addition to raising awareness, some of the proceeds from Roly Poly Pangolin go towards supporting the Carnivore & Pangolin Conservation Program, in Vietnam.

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6. Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby

Based on the collected true stories of the girls of Kabul’s Zabuli Education Center for Girls, Razia’s Ray of Hope tells the story of a young Afghan girl named Razia who must convince the men of her family that an educated woman is just as valuable as an educated man. Every purchase of this children’s book helps send another Afghan girl to school, with a portion of the royalties going directly to support the Razia's Ray of Hope foundation.

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7. Dead Man Walking: The Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty That Sparked a National Debate by Helen Prejean

When Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to two death row inmates in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the entire trajectory of her life and work changed — perhaps in ways even she couldn’t have imagined. No matter what side of the death penalty debate you fall on, this book will take you through all perspectives on capital punishment — that of the convicted, their victims’ families, and the prison executioners themselves. By purchasing a copy of Sister Helen Prejean’s well-known and film-adapted title Dead Man Walking directly from nonprofit Ministry Against the Death Penalty, you’ll be supporting Prejean’s efforts to raise awareness about the death penalty in the United States, and promote a system of restorative justice over criminal justice in all 50 states.

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8. Soar: Uplifting Quotes for Those Who Need Hope, a Hug, or a High-Five by Emily Talkow

The story behind Soar: Uplifting Quotes for Those Who Need Hope, a Hug, or a High-Five is about as sweet as the title of the book itself. Earlier this year 13-year-old Emily Talkow, inspired by a video she saw about education inequality, decided to do something about it. Compiling her favorite inspiring, uplifting, motivational, and meaningful quotes alongside her own writing, Talkow is using CreateSpace to self-publish and sell the book on Amazon. All proceeds from Soar will be donated to improving education in low-income areas.

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9. The Tale of Josephine Rose: A Horse's Magical Neigh by Kristen Halverson

This adorable children’s book is about a horse named Josephine who moves from Canada to Iowa, and has a difficult time making friends in her new environment. But eventually, with the help of a retired race horse named Spaha, each of the horses on Josephine’s new farm learn about generosity, kindness, and being open to the unique qualities of different people (err… horses) from other countries and cultures. Proceeds from The Tale of Josephine Rose will benefit the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, which supports equine welfare.

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Image: Lena Bell/Unsplash