Volunteering with Books

When I was in college, I took a course in children’s literature with the goal of one day reading to children as a volunteer in schools, libraries, recreation programs, and so on. That hasn’t happened yet, but I found other ways to contribute through books.

All public libraries welcome donations in good condition. But it’s best to check with each library system and branch to see what items are actually needed.

Local organizations and other nonprofits have book programs for people who are isolated in hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. Community organizations often hold book sales to benefit each specific group. A local chapter of the American Association of University Women organizes a book sale every April. All need donations.

BookCrossing is a unique way to share books. One small Maryland restaurant installed a bookshelf. Customers dropped off books and picked up any that interested them.

Several years ago, I volunteered with In2Books, a Washington, DC organization that pairs volunteers with elementary school students who are struggling with reading. Through letters written on the computer, the volunteer and student pen pals discuss the books that are on the In2Books list for the year. It was fun to participate in.

Last night, on the NBC Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment, I learned about a Georgia organization called Sheltering Books, which donates children’s books to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. I think it’s a really great idea. It is the creation of Mackenzie Bearup, who turned to reading to cope with a health condition.

I click on The Literacy Site daily, and the rest of its family of sites. This Forbes article about Hippocampus tells about efforts to build libraries in India.


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