The spirit of giving shouldn’t be limited just to December, but people are always in a more charitable mood at this time of year. And it’s a great thing, because there are so many wonderful programs that need your help.
Here at Muse Monthly we believe in the power of literature as a learning tool. Reading can help you expand your vocabulary, visit far-off lands, learn about new cultures, and stretch your brain to new ideas and concepts. But more than anything, reading helps you empathize – it helps you understand people, their struggles, their emotions, and their choices. Books can help educate, end the cycle of poverty, and change communities.
But of course, not everyone has access to books, and therefore these learning tools are out of reach. That is why we encourage giving your unwanted or used books to one of these wonderful programs that helps bring the joy of reading to the world.
HousingWorks Bookstore & Cafe, NYC
HousingWorks is a program in New York City that helps those living with HIV/AIDS get healthcare, find housing and jobs, and legal assistance to ease the hardship of living with the illness. HousingWorks has both a Thrift Shop and a Bookstore/Cafe in Manhattan which is run by volunteers and stocked by donations. 100% of the proceeds go towards their efforts helping people living with HIV/AIDS. Beyond being one of the most beautiful bookshops in the city, HousingWorks is filled with kind people, and does a world of good for the community.
Send donations to: 126 Crosby St., NYC, 10012 Attn: General Donations
Prison Book Programs
This may seem like an unusual choice, but prisons are one of the best place to send your book donations. Of course, there are restrictions, but this can really be a situation of books saving lives. Not only are you promoting education and literacy, but you’ll also be providing some much-needed escapism to those in an unfortunate situation. Of course, there are some guidelines, but this may be a good idea if you’re looking to donate textbooks, especially for legal studies, languages, or test prep.
There are several book donation programs for prisons, as prisoners typically cannot receive donations from an individual. These programs vary from state-to-state so I’d suggest doing a bit of research before sending them off, but here are just a few:
Children’s Literacy Programs
You know it. I know it. We all know it. The books we read as children are the ones that truly stick with us, and reading is a formative part of our education. Who would we be if not for books?
It is so important for children to have access to books, but of course, not everyone has that luxury. Children who are homeless, living in shelters or group homes, or are living in areas without libraries are depending on your donations. This is a great opportunity to clear out old baby books, or send over a bunch of your favorites that you think another child would enjoy.
http://www.milkandbookies.org/about/ (does a variety of work to promote childhood literacy, family time, and foster a love of books)
http://www.projectnightnight.org/ (for homeless children 12 and under)
http://www.pajamaprogram.org/ (for children living in poverty, living with homelessness or in shelters, foster care, or are victims of abuse & neglect)
Sometimes our hearts can extend overseas, and children across the world need books as well. Donating to programs with international reach means not only are you changing a child’s life, but also the life and the wellbeing of a community. The US has a literacy rate of 97.9%. Other countries are not so fortunate. We have to remember that we are a global community, and that every little bit helps us move forward together. If you’re looking at the bigger picture this season, here are some programs to take a look at:
https://www.roomtoread.org/ (works to provide education for young girls – nearly 800 million people are illiterate and two thirds are women and girls)
https://www.booksforafrica.org/ (provides books to school libraries, orphanages, adult literacy programs, and community centers in Africa)
http://www.intlbookproject.org/ (promotes literacy in underserved areas of the world, domestic and international)
Your local school or library
Schools and libraries are where it all begins. When I was younger, my mother took me to storytime at our library, a place where the children of the community could come and love books together. I remember being told I was trying to check out too many books at school, I remember having girl scout meetings in the library, I remember checking out books on Egypt and the Amazon and Cryptography and Nellie Bly and so many other subjects.
If you’re a reader, I bet you have memories like this too.
Giving to your local library or school ensures that your love for reading goes right back into your community. Schools and libraries are the front lines for education, literacy, imagination, and growth. Give that gift to another budding bookworm, and change a life forever.
I always find it hard to take books off my bookshelves, but it’s easier knowing that my books will be going somewhere they are truly appreciated. Please consider donating to any of these wonderful programs this year, and spread the joy of reading.