2016 is very nearly truly over. And while most of us are anxious to escape this garbage fire of a year... it's a little hard to get excited about 2017 right now. So let's all make a collective resolution to be a force for good in the new year. Let's organize, volunteer, and donate. It's a long road ahead, but every cent counts. Here are a few bookish charities to get you started.
Of course, there are many causes that deserve our support in 2017. Most of us want to help displaced people, fight discrimination, and continue to have a functional Earth with trees and air. But supporting literacy and access to books is more important now than ever, too. There are still 758 million illiterate adults in the world. It can be incredibly challenging to find work, educate your children, or vote if you cannot read. Everyone should have the right to a decent education. And we need the next generation to grow up literate if we want them to pull us out of this mess.
So this new year, let's all try to help, in whatever way we can. Donate money, or donate books (I know you need the extra shelf space). These charities are worth it:
1Reach Out And Read
Reach Out And Read is such a simple, brilliant idea: what if literacy was a part of doctor's visits? Thousands of participating doctors and nurses promote childhood literacy, distributing over 6.5 million free books to children each year, as well as advice on literacy and school readiness for parents.
2Book Aid International
Book Aid International has been going strong since 1954. Through a variety of programs, they support public, community, and school libraries across rural Africa and the Middle East, donating brand new books, running literacy programs, and training librarians. They've also been bringing books to refugee camps and mobile libraries, spreading the opportunity to read everywhere they can.
3Milk + Bookies
Yes, the name is a little too cute, but Milk + Bookies is a great charity that gets kids involved in bringing books to other kids. Through book fairs, educational programs, and do-it-yourself book donation parties, Milk + Bookies encourages kids to donate their old books and give back to under-served communities.
4Women's Prison Book Project
It's not just kids who need access to books. The Women's Prison Book Project provides free reading material to incarcerated women and transgender persons. Their books can range from entertainment to law, education, and health. You can donate your own books, or buy a specifically requested book for women in need.
5Literacy for Incarcerated Teens
Literacy for Incarcerated Teens focuses on bringing books and education to children in juvenile detention centers. They coordinate book donations, author visits, and age-appropriate literacy programs to help kids from 8-17 learn to love reading.
First Book is just what it sounds like: they give kids their first book! They also provide free new books to schools, and run a marketplace for affordable books and educational materials for teachers nationwide.
7Room to Read
Room to Read works with local communities worldwide to promote literacy and gender equality in the classroom. Partnering with both NGOs and government programs, they build schools and libraries, provide free books, and support girls' education through primary and secondary school.
8Little Free Library
Does it get more adorable than Little Free Library? Possibly not, because Little Free Library helps people to start their very own mini-library in their neighborhood. You build a little book house, and encourage your neighbors to take a book and leave a book. A simple idea that's spread to 50,000 libraries in over 70 countries.
9Project Night Night
Project Night Night provides homeless children with a "night night" package: a new security blanket, stuffed animal, and age-appropriate book in a canvas tote bag. A simple package, but an effective way to promote literacy and ease the trauma of homelessness on small children.
LitWorld understands the power of storytelling. Beyond supporting childhood literacy, LitWorld partners with community organizations worldwide to help children tell their own stories. Through a variety of programs, LitWorld helps kids express themselves creatively through writing and storytelling, and cultivate a lifelong love of books.
Images: jutheanh/Pixabay, YouTube (6), Vimeo (2)