Today is Giving Tuesday. Of course, all giving should be deeply personal and meaningful. In years past, I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving working at the Goddard Riverside Community Center Annual Book Fair in New York City. It was hard but fun, extremely rewarding work where we sold new books donated by publishers at a deep discount to raise money for the work that Goddard did all year round: homeless outreach, senior citizen’s housing and services, high school students with SAT prep. And I got to handsell books, so it was perfect for me. Unfortunately, I now live too far away to participate but I’ll always remember it fondly.
I encourage anyone who can volunteer in their community to do so. But say you’d rather send a check? Or books? Check out a literary charity.
Reading is Fundamental will always have a place in my heart. Getting free books is awesome when you’re a little kid! And heck, even when you’re an adult. RIF is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Not only do they give free books to kids, they have programs to encourage reading and to help kids retain what they’ve learned during the school year.
826 National, co-founded by writer Dave Eggers, aims to help students 6-18 tap into their creativity and improve their writing, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Each 826 chapter offers five core programs: after-school tutoring, field trips, workshops, Young Authors’ Book Project, and in-school programs—all free of charge—for students, classes, and schools.
Women’s Prison Book Project provides free books to incarcerated women and transgender persons, covering a wide range of topics from law and education (dictionaries, GED, etc.) to fiction, politics, history, and women’s health.
First Book provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. Since their founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.
Little Free Library: You know those cute little miniature schoolhouses full of books you can borrow? They started in Wisconsin as a tribute to Todd Bol’s book-loving teacher mom. Well, they multiplied and the goal was to build 2510 of them, as many libraries as Andrew Carnegie built, and to spread literacy as widely as possible. One of those Carnegie libraries was in my hometown, by the way, and boy was it a haven for me.
These are just a few examples and you can find more at http://www.playingbythebook.net/125-literacy-book-charities/#us or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/11/book-charities-that-help-kids_n_6817484.html. Do your research and decide where and how you want to donate your time and money. Some organizations will let you earmark them on AmazonSmile if that’s more your speed. Don’t forget your local library or school.
And though Small Business Saturday has passed us by, consider paying a visit to your local bookstore if you’re lucky enough to have one.