So you have a lot of books and you don’t know what to do with them. Your shelves are full. You have too many to count. Or you have books that you like but don’t want to keep. You’ve had your time with them and now you’re hoping to find another home for them.
There are many things you could do with additional books, but if you have many specific types of books, such as B. Children’s books, you may want to find a specific place to donate them. As a book lover and educator, the more books that a child can get their hands on, the better. For some families, this is not always possible. In my opinion, donating children’s books should be less about getting rid of them and more about helping them reach young readers. The good news is that there are multiple ways to do this! You can start by finding the right organization, family or school. How you go about it depends on where you are and how you can travel and transport the books. I have a few tips to help you choose a place to donate children’s books. Read on to find out!
Where to donate children’s books
1. Find a friend
I think it’s always important to start small and work your way up. If you know family or friends who have children, ask them if they would like your books! If they don’t want them, they may know a family that does.
I also encourage you to get in touch via social media. Post to Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, Instagram and Twitter. If no one wants them, they might know someone who does.
2. Send them to schools!
As a teacher I ask you: Please give me your books. When I’m not using them, I find a suitable place for them. I can’t speak for all teachers, but I can say that I’d rather have books to flip through than none. Ideally, give the books to a specific teacher so they can decide if they want it in their classroom or if the level is right for their students. It’s okay if it’s a bit above the student’s level because the teacher can still read it to the class.
I don’t think I’d ever get tired of getting books. If I don’t use them, I would give them to another teacher or some families who can’t afford to get their students extra books to read. If you have books that your child used at school, please consider giving them to another family at school or to the student’s teacher. The syllabus is subject to change, but I often rely on getting these extra copies for students who never got books, forgot them, or lost them.
Also, I would talk to the school librarians and see what they want to do with the books. If you don’t have a specific school in mind or are not connected to one through family or friends, please contact the front desk before donating books. You can ask them if they are accepting books or if a particular teacher or class has a need.
In general, it is always advisable to have a quick check with the relevant staff before handing in books.
3. Let the librarians have them!
Where can children access a large collection of books for free? The library of course!
So, of course, the library would be one of the best places to donate your books. With this in mind, it is important to be mindful when donating. What I mean by that is consider what types of books they will accept, what condition they should be in, if there are any types of books they don’t want, etc.
Books that are falling apart or badly damaged are usually not necessarily worth repairing and donating. When donating to libraries, stick to gently used books. After all, these are children’s books, and they will have to weather many more storms to be a useful resource for the library. There are other factors to consider when donating a book, but more on that later.
If you could tell the librarian the names of specific books and collections that would be even better! Some libraries already provide this information online, others may only give you the place and times to drop it off. You can also check how they use the books by calling or going online.
Some libraries, such as the Phoenix Public Library, resell donated books to raise money for library services and programs. They don’t list any special requirements, but they do indicate the drop-off location and times for the donation. When you donate books to the library, they may not end up on the shelves but are distributed by the library to teachers and other librarians who request a book donation. The Phoenix Public Library has the Bookstorm program, which allows local school librarians and teachers to request and receive books. Check if your local library has a similar program!
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4. Donate books to children who are incarcerated
You may have heard of the Prison Book Program. This program preserves books and gets those books into the hands of people who are in prison. A quick look at their criteria would reveal that children’s books are not on their list.
Fortunately, there is an organization called the Liberation Library that distributes books to youth incarcerated in Illinois. They have partnered with bookstores to support them in their mission. Another book previously written by Rioter in Action Item: Liberation Library. Unfortunately, the Liberation Library is not currently accepting book donations. Please save this for later! With that in mind, donating books isn’t the only way to show support. You can volunteer, donate money, and become a pen pal!
In addition, there are several programs in the US, Canada and the UK that help provide books to people in prison. You can check the list which includes programs like Read Between the Bars in Tucson that have different criteria when accepting books.
5. Think charities, non-profit organizations, and thrift stores
Several charities collect and sell merchandise (like books) to fund a variety of centers that help those in need. Because many charities and nonprofit organizations don’t simply redistribute the books, but rather use them to raise money, it’s important to consider the transparency of the organization. How are your books received and used?
Here are a few to consider.
Books for Free Program: The Child’s Trust and the Miami Book Fair partner to distribute books to over 70 bookcases in Miami’s Dade’s County neighborhoods.
Arizona Helping Hands Book Drive: This nonprofit organization provides a variety of services for children in foster care. One hands out books they receive from their book drive.
Kids Need to Read: This group provides books and other services to needy children and libraries.
Of course, if you just want to get rid of your books without throwing them away, you can give them to thrift stores, which will sell them for a lower price. Some may donate this money to charities. When it comes to children’s books, it would really be better to be a little more aware of where you donate them. Finding a good home makes all the difference for these children and families.
6. Look for book donation locations near you
If you want to find another home for your children’s books but prefer to stay closer to home or prefer drop-off only locations, you can use this book donation card to search for them. You can search for book donation locations using the criteria listed above, as well as other criteria such as pickup or closed due to Covid.
Take a look at the map and find the nearest locations. There you can see which accept children’s books. You might also want to check out these free bookstores, many of which specialize in giving away children’s books.
7. Find a small free library
If none of these other tips appeal to you, you can always put these books in a small free library. If you do this, make sure you split all of your books into a few so you don’t overload them. I would recommend looking for Little Free Libraries near schools so there is a more likely chance that books will be found and read by the intended audience.
Now that you have a few places to donate your children’s books, it’s important to think about which books you’re going to donate.
How to choose the right books to donate
There are a few things to consider when choosing which books to donate:
What is your reason for donating them? Do you want others to enjoy it, or do you want to declutter your space? Do you have too many copies of a particular book? Consider if other people want these books. Are these good books for your children? Are they age appropriate? Where will these books go and are they suitable for it? It’s always better to assign your books to a specific home. If your books just gather dust, you don’t necessarily want to give them to another place where they do the same. Are the books varied? Are they written by a variety of writers with different backgrounds? Are they written by writers from marginalized communities? Do they include messages that encourage a child’s love of reading? Will it teach them about the life experiences of others that are different from their own? Will it challenge you to think critically about the world around you? Are the books in good condition? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been donated my fair share of children’s books that are falling apart. The feeling is appreciated, but often it’s not worth spending the time and energy trying to fix.
When choosing books, it is also important to know which books not to choose. Another book that Rioter has already written about it is Don’t Donate These Books. There are some good tips for deciding which books are worth donating while others are better off recycling.
There you have it! They have a place to donate children’s books and tips to make book selection easier. If you have other types of books to donate, see Where to Donate Books You No Longer Need for more tips!