We all love books, right? We love to get lost in a piece of fiction or devour a fascinating biography. But just imagine if you had never picked up a book for pleasure or if you couldn’t pick up a book because you didn’t know how to read. Many African countries have adult literacy rates below 40%. The problem even extends into our own backyard: although the adult literacy rate in the U.S. is 86%, that still leaves about 32 million American adults who can’t read.
So what can you do? There are lots of options including volunteering to read to students at a local school (after all, literacy starts in childhood) and donating books to shelters and prisons. Many charities also focus on illiteracy issues and bringing books to those in need, in prison or in the military, including these four:
A favorite of mine, Out of Print Clothing is a fabulous online shop of t-shirts, sweatshirts, baby onesies, iPhone cases and other accessories that feature book cover designs for classic books. Aside from simply being awesome, Out of Print also donates one book to a community in need through their partner Books For Africa, for every product sold.
First Book provides shiny new books to programs and schools that serve low-income families and children in the US and Canada. They’ve distributed over 100 million books since 1992!
Room to Read focuses on two related causes: literacy and gender equality in education, a major problem in much of the world. Working specifically in Asia and Africa, Room to Read helps primary and secondary schools develop positive reading habits among students and promotes the need for girls to finish school.
United through Reading is a really special program that creates videos of deployed parents reading books aloud and sends them to their children so that they can have the experience of being read to, which in turn promotes a love of books and reading later in life.