Support Literacy Charities 2021

  • literacy charities
  • 11 December, 2021

Most readers of Shanahan on Literacy are professionals in the field or parents with concerns about their children’s reading. They care deeply about literacy education. Another way to express your commitment to literacy is to support literacy charities.

Several years ago, I started to recommend literacy charities. Since then, each year, I comb through the Charity Navigator ratings to identify 4-star rated programs that are national or multi-regional in scope. The charities listed here (and that will continue to be listed on my site for the next 12 months provide books and other literacy services, are transparent in their reporting, and spend all or most of the money that they collect on their missions rather than on overhead. If you donate to these organizations, good literacy things happen. (I have no connection to any of these organizations).

This year for the first time, with the help of Charity Intelligence Canada, I have included two Canadian charities as well for my many Canadian readers.

There are lots of worthwhile local literacy charities, too. I’m in no position to monitor and evaluate those, but consider turning some of your generosity towards them as well.

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

U.S. Charities

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 choice and ownership. Studies show that children are much more likely to read books that they choose. Over a school year, the percentage of Book Trust students reading at grade level jumps from 31 percent to 59 percent. During the past year, Book Trust has served 57,000 children in 21 states – and they have distributed three-quarters of a million books in that time.

Books for Africa.  Founded in 1988, Books for Africa (BFA) collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to children in Africa. Our goal is to end the book famine in Africa. 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. We send good books, enough books for a whole class to use. Since 1988, Books For Africa has shipped more than 52 million books to every African country. They are on once-empty library shelves, in classrooms in rural schools, and in the hands of children who have never held a book. Each book will be read repeatedly. When the books arrive, they go to those who need them most: children who are hungry to read, hungry to learn, hungry to explore the world in ways that only books make possible.

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. Ferst Readers addresses the growing concern of children from low-income communities entering kindergarten without basic literacy skills and school readiness, a preventable problem with far-reaching impacts. The recipe for early school success is simple: start school with strong language and literacy skills. Ferst Readers' recipe for encouraging literacy development is even simpler: ensure that children have age-appropriate books in their home and provide parents with literacy resources that reinforce the importance of early learning and encourage them to read frequently with their children. By mailing a new book every month to enrolled children, birth to five, Ferst Readers is committed to providing early learning opportunities with the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. They have distributed 7,000,000 books over the past 20 years!

Room to ReadRoom to Read believes that World Change Starts with Educated Children. It envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. 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 literacy programs that they support around the world have served 20 million children and they have distributed more than 32 millions books.

United Through Reading. United Through Reading (UTR) 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, United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to the special children in their lives. The videos allow families to share story time during periods of physical separation. Services can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through the United Through Reading App. Veterans and their families are also encouraged to participate in UTR. 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 literary awards. CODES 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 years, First Book Canada has distributed more than 1.3 millions of high-quality age-appropriate books to 500,000 children who would not have access to books otherwise. Their programs focus on getting books into the hands of children growing up in poverty.


See what others have to say about this topic.

Barb Carriere Dec 14, 2021 04:53 PM

Oh Canada! Thank you for including some Canadian charities!

What Are your thoughts?

Leave me a comment and I would like to have a discussion with you!

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Support Literacy Charities 2021


One of the world’s premier literacy educators.

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