Literacy Charities for 2024

  • literacy charities
  • 09 December, 2023

Annually, Shanahan on Literacy recommends literacy charities for your consideration. I know that, like me, you have deep concerns about reading education, so it makes sense to give to charities that distribute books to children or provide reading instruction to those especially in need or that extend literacy learning in other ways.

Each year, I consult Charity Navigator (U.S.) and Charity Intelligence (Canada) to identify the top-rated literacy charities (4-star in U.S., and 5-star in Canada). You can be sure that the charities listed here:

  • Are international, national, or multi-regional in scope,
    • Focus entirely or mainly on providing books and literacy instruction to populations in need,
    • Provide these services directly to children,
    • Are transparent in their reporting, and
    • Spend all or most of their donations on their missions rather than overhead.

That means that if you donate to these organizations, good literacy things happen for lots of kids.

I’m recommending these charities today, but will keep these listings on the charity page of my website through the coming year: Shanahan Charities

Since I started doing this, my list has included 5-7 worthy charities. This year something remarkable has happened. Charity Navigator awarded their cherished 4-stars designation to a record 11 children’s literacy charities in the U.S., and Charity Intelligence included two more as well. It is wonderful that so many organizations are putting their shoulder to the wheel to make sure children become successful readers.

In case you’re wondering, I have no connection to any of these organizations.

Remember this list only includes charities with a broad reach – internationally, nationally, or regionally. It would be impossible for me to draw attention to the more than 1,000 highly ranked literacy charities that are local in nature. Nevertheless, I encourage you to also support such charities in your own communities as I do in mine.

Please be generous, be safe, and have a wondrous and literate holiday.

Book Trust. Book Trust attempts to empower kids from low-income families to choose and buy their own books, all through the school year. They focus on children’s book choices and ownership. Studies show that children are much more likely to read books that they choose for themselves. During the past year, Book Trust has served more than 45,000 children in 13 states – and they have distributed about 10 million books over the past two decades.

Books for Africa.  Founded in 1988, Books for Africa collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to children in Africa. Their goal is to end that continent’s book famine. Books donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals, and organizations are sorted and packed by volunteers who carefully choose books that are age and subject appropriate. They send enough good books for whole classes to use. Since its inception, Books for Africa has shipped more than 56 million books, reaching every African country.

Children's Literacy Initiative.  Children's Literacy Initiative works with educators to transform instruction so that children can become powerful readers, writers, and thinkers. It works with teachers to transform literacy instruction in public, charter, and parochial schools to ensure that students can read on grade level. They provide job-embedded coaching, workshops, and books aimed at improving teachers’ instructional expertise. This year, they are serving nearly 17,000 students.

Curious Learning.  Curious Learning works with partners to curate, localize, and distribute free open-source apps that empower everyone to have the opportunity to learn to read. They work to empower users with the resources and tools to activate learning and engagement, from the individual child that wants to learn to read, to the parent who wants more for their children, and to the teacher striving to help many. This year their technological resources have reached 3.5 million children around the world. 

Ferst ReadersFerst Readers' mission is to strengthen communities by providing quality books and literacy resources for children and their families to use at home during the earliest stages of development. Their efforts focus on children in low-income communities. They ensure that children have age-appropriate books in their homes and that their parents have the literacy resources needed to support early learning and book sharing. By mailing a new book every month to enrolled children, birth to five, Ferst Readers is committed to providing early learning opportunities. They have distributed more than 7 million books over the past 24 years (about a half million each year now)!

First Book. First Book is dedicated to ensuring that all children, regardless of their background or zip code, can succeed, by removing barriers to equitable education. They reach 5 million kids each year in low-income communities across North America, providing books and resources through a powerful network of more than 575,000 educators, the largest online community of its kind. By infusing high-quality resources into classrooms and programs nationwide, they help ensure that children are ready to learn.

Reach Out and Read. Reach Out and Read was founded in 1989 to help families make reading a part of their routines, and to supply the books they need to get started. They are now in all 50 states, with 6,200 program sites that provide 7.1 million books each year. Their pediatric network provides families at routine check-ups with the knowledge and tools they need to make reading a part of their daily routine. Currently, they reach 4.4 million children across the country — more than three-fourths of whom come from low-income families.

Reading is Fundamental. Reading is Fundamental was founded in the 1960s with the purpose of making books available to children growing up in poverty. This year alone they have distributed almost 6 million books, and their efforts reach 91 percent of all elementary schools in the United States, the insight that

Reading PartnersFounded in 1999, the mission of Reading Partners is to help children become lifelong readers by empowering communities to provide individualized instruction with measurable results. they do this by focusing on children from low-income communities; giving one-on-one instruction at the student's reading level; recruiting and training community volunteers to work with children; partnering with high-need elementary schools to offer free services on the school campus; and providing a way for volunteers to give a small amount of their time to make a huge difference in a child's life. of RIF

Room to ReadRoom 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, they 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 literacy programs that they support around the world have served 35 million children and they have distributed more than 39 million books.

United Through Reading. United Through Reading unites military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud. In more than 200 locations worldwide on land and at sea, it offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to the special children in their lives. More than 2 million families have used the United Through Literacy app. Services can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When service members read to children they love and send the video recordings and books home: family morale is boosted; separation-related stress is reduced; family reading routines are maintained; children remain connected to their service members, making family reintegration easier; and children's literacy and language skills develop.

Canadian Charities

CODE. CODE promotes every child’s right to read. It works in partnership with locally based

organizations to promote local literacy education efforts around the world. They have helped more than 10 million children to gain access to better reading and writing education, supporting literacy programs, research initiatives, and literacy awards. CODE’s literacy efforts provide teacher professional development and equip teachers with culturally-relevant children’s books and learning materials to nurture reading and writing skills in young students. 

First Book Canada. Over the past 14 years, First Book Canada has distributed more than 7 million high-quality age-appropriate books to kids in need who would not have access to books otherwise. Their programs focus on getting books into the hands of children growing up in poverty. The program reaches hundreds of thousands of children each year.

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See what others have to say about this topic.

Betsy Reilly Dec 09, 2023 05:10 PM

May I also suggest local affiliates of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library? I have started an affiliate in London, Ontario, Canada. Children aged 0-5 receive age appropriate books free of charge to the families once a month. I appreciate seeing Canadian selections among our book selection, as well as diverse books including Indigenous books to honour the Report on Truth and Reconciliation. It is a cost effective program in which Dollywood Foundation covers half of the costs and local groups like mine fundraise through community foundations and other charities.

Timothy Shanahan Dec 09, 2023 05:13 PM

No, it would be impossible to list all the different local charities that do a good job, so I have not evaluated the ones you have mentioned -- nor do the charity evaluation organizations (the Dolly Parton Foundation does not receive a 4 star rating).



Debra Meyer Dec 21, 2023 08:51 PM

The Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children is nascent. When we get our Platinum and 4 star ratings on the philanthropic indices I'll let you know!

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Literacy Charities for 2024


One of the world’s premier literacy educators.

He studies reading and writing across all ages and abilities. Feel free to contact him.