Last Updated on May 18, 2021
Do you love books? Are you finding yourself with an abundance of books in your home? Are you wondering where to donate books?
When the collection of books starts to be a problem and begins to threaten every surface of your home, you may want to think of getting rid of some of them. When you are continually getting free books or finding cheap books to buy and read- you can find yourself with an extensive collection of books you are no longer interested in, books your kids have outgrown, or even doubles of the same book.
Why You Should Donate Your Used Books
Books are essential, and providing the opportunity to read books is incredibly important. Donating used books is a great way to help other people and reduce the clutter in your home. If your kids didn’t love the book from the Summer Reading Program at your local library, maybe there is another child who will find their next favorite book!
Donating old books (and other household items that you no longer use) is a great way to reduce the amount of clutter in your home, reduce the amount of trash that ends up in a landfill, and is an excellent way to help other people out without having to spend any more money.
I am an avid used book collector, and I enjoy buying books- but when it gets too much, and my book collection is overflowing, I love donating my used books to people who will appreciate them. It is a great way to share the wealth of literacy!
Certain pricey books may be worth it to sell, but since I buy so many of my books second-hand or get them as “hand-me-downs,” they not only won’t get much money being sold online, but it is an easy way for me to do good for other people without having to spend money.
Some of the places listed below take the books you donate to them and resell them for a minimal price (allowing those who can’t afford full-price books to have access to books they wouldn’t have had otherwise) and then use the fund for charitable endeavors. Other donation sites give the books to children (or adults) for them to read. Ask for a tax-deductible receipt after making your donation, and speak to a tax professional about how best to apply it to your tax bill.
Where to Donate Books?
One of the best places to get free books is also a place to donate books. Many “Friends of the Library” Organizations take used books and sell them to help them raise money for library operations. Ask a librarian for information about what kind of books and conditions they accept books and where to leave your donation.
(Tip: this is also a great way to get cheap books and support your local library: check out your libraries “sale” section for used books to buy for highly discounted prices)
Little Free Libraries
Little Free Libraries is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. These adorable libraries are popping up all over and are a great place to donate your books. Anyone can take or give a book, so drop off one or many of your gently used books for someone else to read. Check here to find the closest one to you.
Make your own Little Free Library
If you don’t have a little free library near you, why don’t you start your own? Read through these step-by-step instructions on creating a free little library of your own and helping other people access a free book. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. Access to free books is good for everyone!
Along with other donations, the Salvation Army takes donations of books as well. The Salvation Army can be a great place to donate your books when you do full de-cluttering of your house.
Goodwill takes clothes, household items, furniture, and used books! They sell them in their stores to raise money for their charity. They also provide a tax deduction receipt. Goodwill has very few requirements for used books, so you can donate hardcover books, textbooks, old library books, non-fiction books, law books, and any other book you may have!
Ask your local shelter or food bank if they take donations of used books. Specifically used children’s books may be well received by those utilizing these services. It’s a great way to make sure that people who need books get them. Two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own. A gift of a book can help them enormously.
Books for Africa collects books that are gently used and acceptable for the African Reader to send to communities, schools, and educational centers in Africa that can use these books. You can check out the exact requirements on their website, along with instructions on how to send the books.
The African Library Project helps schools and communities in Africa set up a library. They collect, sort, and pack gently used children’s books and raise modest funds to ship to each library. Too many African children grow up without books, while U.S. bookshelves and landfills overflow with books no longer read. By partnering with communities in the U.S, they can take excess books from one country and send them to another. To save money and resources, they ship books in large amounts all at once, so they don’t take individual donations of books, but you can help start a book drive!
Prisoners always want books to read, and prison libraries are always looking for donations. Unfortunately, although prisons accept donations, they have many rules regarding which books they accept (some arbitrarily). For example, they only take soft-cover books, not hard-cover books. Each prison and program can have its own rules and guideline, so read them carefully before sending them your books. Otherwise, your loved used book collection will end up in the trash instead of in the hands of the prison book program.
Books Through Bars provide small packages of books to people incarcerated in the Mid-Atlantic region: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Maryland, and Virginia. The books are free, and they send them to anyone who asks, providing they are in the region they serve, and the prison accepts books. They have VERY specific types of books that they can accept as donations, so please read the guidelines carefully.
Reader to Reader, Inc. is an organization dedicated to expanding literacy and learning opportunities for the nation’s most chronically underserved and vulnerable communities, including inner-city schools, Native American reservations, and poor rural towns. All books donated should be gently used or new children’s books or books suitable for teens.
Kids Need to Read is always grateful to receive new children’s books for use in their donations. They also accept “like new” books that are not scribbled upon or visibly damaged. You can mail the books to be distributed to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States.
Buy Nothing Group
Buy Nothing Groups on Facebook are a great way to get rid of the old used books you don’t want anymore. Post anything you’d like to give away on your neighborhood specific Facebook page, and someone in your neighborhood looking for books will contact you!
Adults and kids who are spending long stretches in the hospital may appreciate books to read. Some hospitals accept used book donations, although it is location-specific. Check with your hospital about which types of books they do or don’t take (they may only take new books or only at certain times) before loading up your books and going to donate them.
Books for soldiers help you send books directly to soldiers and military members who are serving our country. They list soldiers’ requests for books (and other items), and if you can fill the request, you mail the book directly to the soldier who requested it.
Better World Books have handy drop-off boxes for you to donate used books. Donated books are sold online to raise money for non-profit literacy organizations. If you don’t have a drop-off box near you, then you can mail books for them to donate (or check out any of these other places where you can donate books).
This is only available in Los Angeles County, so sorry to everyone else! Re-Book makes sure that used books get put to work helping childhood literacy in schools, libraries, charities, and hospitals. They provide free donation pick-up for donations over a certain amount.
The Children’s Book Bank believes that by giving a child a bundle of books (not one or two), they will ignite a spark of love for reading and improve literacy. They do this by accepting book donations of gently used children’s books in English and Spanish, cleaning them properly, and delivering them to where they’re needed. You can contact them to organize a book drive or to donate books.
Freecycle is great if you want to give directly to someone who wants your books. Post on your community board that you have books to donate and give away and see who responds!
The VVA accepts almost any type of donations, and that includes books! It’s a pretty easy donation process. Schedule a donation here, place the items outside, and clearly and visibly label it for Vietnam Veterans of America or VVA. The driver will look for your donation from the street. This is only available in certain cities in the U.S, so check here to see if you are in one of those areas and to schedule free pick-up of your donations.
Savers is a for-profit thrift store that accepts donations on behalf of non-profit partners, which they then sell and give money to the non-profit partners. The point is: they accept book donations at any one of their many Donation Centers. You can check here for the closest one to you.
Operation Paperback has been providing books to the military community since 1999. They send books to send books directly to troops, veterans, and families. You have to sign up and apply to donate books as they don’t give out soldiers’ or families’ addresses to just anyone. Soldier’s request specific books or broad categories such as comics or fiction.
CLiF has provided free and inspiring literacy programs and brand-new books to low-income, at-risk, and rural children up to age 12 in almost 85% of New Hampshire and Vermont communities. They only accept new books not used, but this is a great way to use your charity dollars. You can hold a new book drive in your community (donors buy a book from a local book store and set it aside for the book drive) or donate money which they will use to purchase books.
Other families in Your Community
Offer your used books to other families or friends. Everyone loves an excellent free book! It will be easy to find a family who will be happy to accept donated books-as books can be pretty expensive. Ask your local religious organization or neighborhood group to match you up with a family that will appreciate the books you have to give.
Many community organizations may accept book donations and have the ability to give your book donations to people who need them. Reach out to the following organizations and ask them if they have any ideas about where to donate books. For example, Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops, Schools, Churches, Synagogues, community centers, Rotary clubs, 4-H Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, or Lions Clubs may collect used books.
Donate Money to Buy Books for Children
“Ensuring that books are available to any child at any time of the year will be a good first step in enhancing the reading achievement of low-income students and a necessary step in closing the reading achievement gap” Anne McGill Franzen and Richard Allington, 2009.
Access to reading materials may have important implications for children’s early literacy development. Giving the gift of literacy to a young child and struggling families can greatly impact the children’s future and success as they grow up. If you can donate money to programs or organizations that provide books to kids in need, you will be helping generations of children.
Here are some charities that work to provide access to children’s reading materials and a description from their websites about what they do and who they help.
Reading Is Fundamental wants to inspire a passion for reading among all children by providing quality content to impact and engage communities to help children achieve success.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada, and Australia.
In 29 years, First Book has distributed over 200 million new books and educational resources worth $2 billion to programs and schools serving children from low-income communities in more than 30 countries.
Since 2001, Pajama Program has delivered over 7 million good nights for good days to children facing adversity by providing new pajamas, storybooks, and resources for caregivers.
Raising A Reader’s mission is to engage caregivers in a book sharing routine with their children from birth through age eight to foster healthy brain development, healthy relationships, a love of reading, and the literacy skills critical for school success.
Reach out and Read offers books in 28 different languages. Books can even be useful for families who don’t read—we encourage them to talk about the pictures’ story. We help integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that catalyze healthy childhood development.
Donating books to people in need can be a great way to get rid of the old books you don’t need anymore. You can give your old books to charities, people in need, or kids. Passing on books that you have finished with or that you don’t want is a great way to reduce waste and help promote the gift of literacy to everyone.
You can use this list of places to help you decide where to donate books.
If you don’t have books to donate, then consider helping out a child, a family in need, or an underserved community by giving money to help build libraries, reading programs, and actual books to the people who need them the most.
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.
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