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So much is special about this time of year, and I know it’s also a time when many of us feel incredibly blessed. This Christmas my entire family will be together, eighteen of us spending five days together in Arizona. One of the things that will bring me the most joy is seeing each of my grandchildren open the books I’ve carefully selected for them. They all love books and are blessed to have many, but not all children (or adults) are as fortunate. The ability to read, understand, and love books is something everyone deserves. As a bibliophile, books and literacy are what I like to support when considering holiday donations. I’ve put together this list of twelve nonprofits that do an amazing job of promoting books and/or literacy. Perhaps you’d like to consider a donation to one of them this holiday season. These wonderful nonprofits speak best for themselves, so included is information directly from each. Please, click their links to find out more or to donate, and may your holiday season be joyous!
Books for Kids – “The mission of the Books for Kids Foundation is to promote literacy among all children with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children. Books for Kids creates libraries, donates books, and implements literacy programs to develop the critical early foundation and skills which young children need to be successful in life.” Books For Kids highlights just how important early exposure books is, “Vocabulary development by age 3 has been found to predict reading development. By age 3, children from wealthier families have typically heard 30 million more words than children from low-income families.”
First Book – “First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. Since our 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.” I really like that First Book works in conjunction with schools toward the goal of to reaching every classroom and community in need with books and educational resources.
Milk & Bookies – I love this nonprofit because it introduces giving to children with something they can relate to, books! “The Milk+Bookies mission is to recreate the experience (choosing, inscribing and giving) as much as possible so that kids get hooked on the amazing power of giving and how great it makes them feel. We hope that it will set them on a path to a life of giving/ helping/ sharing in ALL ways. The exciting by-product of our movement is getting thousands of books into the hands of kids who really want (and need) them.”
National Head Start Association – As an educator, I can’t say enough about Head Start. Early exposure to education, and reading in particular, is the number one indicator of success in school. Head Start has been leading the way in early education of children in need since 1965. “Head Start is the national commitment to give every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, an opportunity to succeed in school and in life. In the 50 years since its inception, Head Start has improved the lives of more than 32 million children and their families. Head Start alumni – or “Head Start babies,” as they often call themselves – are in all walks of the nation’s life.”
Pajama Program – The mission of Pajama Program is simple, but beautiful: “…….deliver a loving bedtime and quality good night’s sleep to children everywhere.” This group has a five point bill of rights that in itself is so touching it will melt your heart. I would love to share all of it, but I’ll settle for parts, “2. Every child has the right to feel loved and cared for at bedtime. 3. Every child has the right to wear fresh clean pajamas to bed and to enjoy a bedtime story that fires their imagination.”
ProLiteracy – As people who love to read, we don’t tend to think of the ability to do so as anything special, but IT IS. ProLiteracy’s vision is “…..for every adult to have the ability to fulfill his or her life through literacy.” This wonderful organization supports and advocates adult literacy. “ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, believes that a safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated adult population. For more than 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working across the globe to create a world where every person can read and write.”
Reach Out and Read – This wonderful program attacks literacy by using health care providers! “Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.” It is such a great idea to couple check ups and books. Reach Out and Read uses trained doctors and nurses who speak with parents about the importance of reading aloud, starting in infancy. “At each regular checkup from 6 months through 5 years of age, the child receives a new book to take home.” Isn’t that a great way to promote reading?
Reading is Fundamental – This nonprofit works to address the literacy crisis in America. “Literacy begins with parental involvement – often, reading aloud – and continues with the development of a genuine enjoyment of reading. Books play an essential role in a child’s development and are the building blocks for a better future. A productive, contributing nation is dependent on a literate society. Every child deserves an opportunity to own books, learn how to read, and obtain the fundamental building blocks to achieve their highest potential.” That pretty much says it all!
Room to Read – I love this group’s tag line, “We believe that world change starts with educated children.” Their mission is very clear: “Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond. “
The Book Bus – The Book Bus brings reading opportunities to children in developing countries such as Zambia and Ecuador. In their own words, “The Book Bus supports schools by providing mobile library facilities and volunteer story-tellers to help children become confident and literate readers for life. Working mainly with rural schools, our volunteer crew divide huge classes into small groups and inspire the children to read by personalizing the reading experience through story-telling, assisted reading practice and creative arts. This simple and effective support is sustained by provision of books and resources to each school library.”
United Through Reading – This amazing nonprofit supports military members and their families through reading! “In more than 200 locations worldwide, United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to their children at home. Our program creates emotional connections between parents and their children, encourages literacy, and makes homecomings easier.” This is such a powerful way for a parent serving our country to remain an everyday part of their children’s lives and can’t you just imagine the smiles on their kids’ faces!
World Literacy Foundation – The vision of The World Literacy Foundation is a world where everyone can read and write, and in which there is free access to education for all. Today, roughly 20% of the world cannot read. Their goal is to change that, to eradicate illiteracy. “We strongly believe that education is a fundamental human right, and that all individuals should be afforded the same opportunities for their future – including access to basic education.” The World Literacy Foundation works in 25 countries and in partnership with over 3900 groups internationally in the fight for literacy.