Parents of children who have reading struggles might research different ways to help their child. They also might look for organizations that can provide resources to help their child. Some literacy charities provide free books or resources to encourage reading at a young age and to ensure that all children have access to books and materials.
Some parents whose child struggled to gain reading proficiency also might want to support literacy charities to ensure that these organizations can help other families. Here are 10 charities that support children’s literacy:
- Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
- Be the Star You Are
- Make Way for Books
- Children’s Literacy Initiative
- World Literacy Foundation
- Reading is Fundamental
- Ferst Readers
- Book Aid
- Book Harvest
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
About the Organizations
Whether parents are looking for literacy resources or wanting to support an organization that focuses on literacy, there are a number of charities that were established to help encourage reading and literacy among children and adults, too. Here’s what to know about each charity.
Barbara Bush was the First Lady of the United States from 1988 to 1992. Her platform was literacy, and in 1989 the Barbara Bush Foundation for Adult and Family Literacy was established. Since the charity’s founding, it has allocated more than $110 million in support of literacy programs across the U.S. The charity offers the ReadLife Bookshelf, which provides free online books for adults and children. Parents also can access reading tips and a literacy toolkit to use for home-based learning.
The charity was established in 1999 and aims “…to empower women, families, and youth through improved literacy, tools for living, and positive message media.” Be the Star You Are donates a bookshelf of books to schools, clubs, shelters and other organizations for every $100 donation. Donors can choose where the beneficiary is. In addition, teens can sign up to be part of a book review committee; participants read and review selected books; teen reviews are published by the charity. The charity also offers additional online resources.
Make Way for Books supports families in southern Arizona. The organization offers resources and programs to 18,000 families; literacy resources are focused on early development—birth to age 5. Make Way for Books offers many different resources for families including the Make Way for Book App, which provides free online books. The app can be downloaded via Google Play or the App Store. The charity provides resources for the community and early education / daycare centers, too.
The Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI) aims to foster equity in literacy education to provide Black and Latinx children with the resources, advocacy and support they need to ensure they read at or above grade-level proficiency. The organization provides instructors and staff who can guide/coach educators, as well as books and other resources. The mission of CLI focuses on “dismantling structural racism” that exists within early literacy education, and by improving resources for children who have been impacted by the inequitable design of early literacy education.
The World Literacy Foundation helps children around the world have access to books and literacy resources/support. In 2021, the organization provided more than 90,000 books and helped more than 116,000 children and families.
Reading is Fundamental (RIF) was founded in 1966. The organization provides resources and free books to families across the country. In addition, RIF offers literacy data and statistics, articles and other tools and resources via its website. The organization also provides matching grants to schools, libraries and other local organizations to further support literacy education.
Ferst Readers is a charity that provides free books to children (birth to age five). Through the program, children receive one free book each month. The program is available in select counties in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Parents can visit the Ferst Readers’ website to see if the program is available in their area.
Book Aid is based out of England and Wales, and the organization donates books to help libraries across the world. Book Aid also transforms shipping containers into libraries, offers training for teachers and libraries, and gets books into the hands of refugees, too. In the past year, Book Aid distributed more than 800,000 books.
Book Harvest provides books to communities, schools, organizations and more in Durham, North Carolina. Book Harvest offers local book boxes for children to find free books and provides a Book Harvest Family Space that offers an area for children to read and enjoy a library of books. The organization also offers a program called Laundromat Literacy to provide free books for children to read at select laundromats in Durham. This further helps to ensure that children have access to books that they can read, even when their parent or caregiver is doing the laundry.
Like many other literacy-focused charities, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library offers access to free books for families. The program is offered in select areas across the U.S. and provides free books to children from birth to age five. There are no income stipulations to sign up for the program.
Other Literacy Charities and Organizations
Parents might find many other charities and organizations that are focused on literacy. Some programs and organizations might be local.
For parents of children who struggle with reading, these programs and organizations can provide tools, resources and support. In addition, several programs offer parents the opportunity to receive free books to ensure that their child always has access to quality reading materials.
Studies have shown that children who read five books a day know more than one million more words in kindergarten than children whose parents didn’t read to them. Access to age-appropriate reading materials can help parents close this word gap.
How to Help Provide Reading Materials to Children Locally
Parents who have the financial resources to help others in their community might wonder how they could help improve access to books and reading materials for children in their area. Donating to literacy-based charities could be one way to help, but parents also could choose to be more hands-on in their approach.
Start a small reading library that offers books for everyone. These little libraries are popping up all over the country in big cities and small towns. These little lending libraries look like a small box with a clear windowed door; they are secured to the ground with a post (they look a little bit like a mailbox). These libraries hold free books for all ages. Anyone in the community can borrow a book or even share a book.
Small libraries help ensure that children (and adults) can access books for free. These resources allow everyone to help and everyone to benefit.
Parents also could donate their unused books to a local school or daycare center. Teachers also could welcome free books.
While there are many charities that have focused their mission on improving literacy outcomes and in increasing the availability of books and reading materials, parents also could research how to help schools and children in their community. Whether parents support a charity, provide books to a school or create small lending libraries in their community, there are many ways to support literacy education and ensure all children have the tools and resources they need to become proficient readers.