9 Best Charities That Promote Children’s Literacy (Complete 2023 List)

9 Best Charities That Promote Children’s Literacy (Complete 2023 List)

Eniola Adeeko

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Literacy is a vital part of a child’s overall development. It is the foundation for communicating, reading, writing, and socializing. Yet, over 393 million children cannot acquire basic literacy skills before age 10. As a result, charities worldwide are working to provide access to books and create learning opportunities for children. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that promote children’s literacy?

The best charities that promote children’s literacy are Reading Is Fundamental and Reading Partners. Charities like Ferst Readers and Make Way for Books encourage children to develop early literacy skills for academic and social growth.

Whether you want to provide children with free, quality books, or empower families with resources for developing early literacy skills, or make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that promote children’s literacy are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Promote Children’s Literacy Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission and impact in helping children acquire literacy skills to help them succeed at school and in life. They provide economically-disadvantaged children with access to quality books for free to help them discover the joy of reading.

These charities also equip families and caregivers to help them encourage early literacy development in their children. Although some charities focus on literacy and education and others emphasize literacy and medical care, they all share the same goal of helping children learn to read.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Promote Children’s Literacy in 2023

Below are our favorite charities that promote children’s literacy:

  • Reading Is Fundamental
  • Reading Partners
  • Ferst Readers
  • Room to Read
  • Reach Out And Read
  • Books for Africa
  • Everybody Wins DC
  • Make Way for Books
  • World Literacy Foundation

(At the end of this article, we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

Reading Is Fundamental: Until Every Child Reads

Reading Is Fundamental was founded in 1966 by Margaret McNamara to help children learn to read. Today, they are the largest non-profit organization addressing the children’s literacy crisis in the US.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Reading Is Fundamental has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Reading Is Fundamental believes every child deserves an opportunity to own books, learn how to read, and obtain the fundamental building blocks to achieve their highest potential. Literacy opens doors and enables every child the chance to live their own journey.”

Reading Is Fundamental

What they do: Reading Is Fundamental provides opportunities for children to improve their literacy. Fore example, they run the Books for Ownership program that allows children to select new, age-appropriate books for themselves. They also support parents and educators with resources to create a continuous focus on reading. In addition, they run Read for Success, a supplemental reading program for younger children to improve their reading proficiency and encourage a passion for reading. Through Skybrary, an interactive, digital library for educators, children and families, they engage young readers and instil a reading culture.

What they’ve achieved: Reading Is Fundamental is committed to inspiring a passion for reading among all children and providing resources to give every child the fundamentals for success. They have distributed more than 422 million books and impacted the lives of over 100 million children in the US and Puerto Rico. Also, their digital library, Literacy Central, hosts over 10,000 resources for teachers, parents, and community partners to help improve children’s literacy. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Reading Is Fundamental through their website. You can also support them by starting a fundraiser or volunteering. In addition, you can partner with them to identify and implement literacy solutions for a literate America.

Reading Partners: Empowering Students to Become Lifelong Readers

Reading Partners was established in 1999 by Mary Wright Shaw, Molly McCrory, and Jean Bacigalupi as a tutoring program to help school children in California improve their reading skills. Since then, their children’s literacy program has expanded to 10 states across the US.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Reading Partners has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“We envision a future where all children in the US have the reading skills necessary to reach their full potential.”

Reading Partners

What they do: Reading Partners supports students who are behind grade level in reading through one-on-one mentoring programs. They also run Tutoring With the Lightning Squad, an online tutoring program where students work in pairs to practice literacy skills. In addition, they provide access to a digital library of high-quality resources for students through the ReadingIQ app. They offer families and caregivers resources to help them support children’s literacy at home.

What they’ve achieved: Reading Partners has improved the reading and learning skills of 83% of their students by the end of a school year. For example, since 2011, they have significant improvement in the literacy skills of 1,551 first-grade to third-grade students, they had a positive and statistically significant impact of 1,166 second- through fifth-grade students, and they facilitated gains in reading skills along with social-emotional learning skills of 716 kindergarten through fifth-grade students. In addition, their program promotes literacy skill gains among elementary-aged students.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Reading Partners through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or leading a book drive.

Ferst Readers: A Child’s Path to a Brighter Future Is Paved With Books

Ferst Readers was established in 1999 by Robin Ferst to foster literacy and creativity in pre-kindergarten children. Today, they continue to provide literacy resources and quality books for children and their families to encourage early literacy development.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Ferst Readers has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Ferst Readers’ mission is strengthening 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

What they do: Ferst Readers is dedicated to fostering a passion for reading and early literacy skills by providing children with their home library. They work with experts in early childhood education, children’s literature, and family literacy to provide high-quality books to children. Children enrolled in the Ferst Readers program receive a new book every month for free until their 5th birthday. Ferst Readers also equips parents with resources to help their children develop early literacy skills.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Ferst Readers has delivered over 6,875,069 books to young children around the US. In total, 300,077 children have participated in the Ferst Readers program and 141,942 children have graduated and started kindergarten with skills to be successful learners. For example, in 2020 alone, a total of 60,932 children have received books, with 9,882 of new children registered.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Ferst Readers through their website. You can also support them by volunteering or starting a Ferst Program in your community. In addition, you can help more children access quality books by adopting a reader today.

Room to Read: Creating Life-Long Independent Readers

Room to Read was founded in 2000 by John Wood, Erin Ganju, and Dinesh Shrestha to provide economically-disadvantaged children with access to quality books. Today, they are a global organization transforming children’s lives through education to eradicate illiteracy and gender inequality. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Room to Read has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“Room to Read is creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality.”

Room to Read

What they do: Room to Read’s Literacy Program ensures primary schools have libraries filled with books in the children’s local languages, as well as teachers and librarians who are trained to engage a classroom of eager, young learners. They also create books and literary resources that children can enjoy in their local languages at different levels. In addition, they advocate for and partner with governments to scale effective literacy initiatives at the national level.

What they’ve achieved: Room to Read helps children acquire literacy and language skills worldwide. They have helped over 32 million children and families worldwide develop literacy skills and abolish gender inequality. Over 28 million children have benefitted from their literacy program. They have distributed over 34 million books globally and published over 4,800 original and adapted children’s books. In addition, they have trained over 200,000 teachers and librarians in building children’s literacy skills.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Room to Read through their website. You can also support them by starting a fundraiser or joining a chapter of their global community.

Reach Out And Read: Integrating Reading Aloud Into Pediatric Care

Reach Out And Read was founded in 1989 by Barry Zuckerman to help families make reading a part of their daily routines and supply the books needed to get started. Today, they are a national charity integrating reading aloud into pediatric care.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Reach Out And Read has a 3–star rating with Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“At Reach Out and Read, we believe all families should have the tools and information they need to make reading aloud a daily routine. We help integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that serve as a catalyst for healthy childhood development.”

Reach Out and Read

What they do: Reach Out And Read is a network of clinicians committed to researching and raising awareness about the importance of reading aloud in pediatric care. They deliver new, developmentally-appropriate books for children to help them build a home library. They also provide their families with resources to help them incorporate reading into their routine. Through their special initiatives program, they help families and medical caregivers of children with disabilities to make reading a fun part of their routine. 

What they’ve achieved: Reach Out And Read is the only national pediatric literacy model endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They have improved the literacy skills of 4.2 million children annually by integrating reading aloud into pediatric care. The charity also has a network of pediatric providers, with over 40,000 pediatric clinicians trained to operate their literacy model.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Reach Out And Read through their website. You can also support them by donating books or organizing a book drive. In addition, you can volunteer as a book reader for children in your community.

Books for Africa: Working to End Book Famine in Africa

Books for Africa was founded in 1988 by Tom Warth to ship donated books to children in Africa. Today, they continue to create a culture of literacy and provide tools of empowerment for children in Africa.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Books for Africa has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“At Books for Africa, we believe that education is the great equalizer in the world, and books are at the foundation of a strong educational system. For many children in Africa, the gift of books truly is a gift of hope.”

Books for Africa

What they do: Books for Africa helps children who otherwise would not attend school by supplying educational materials to reduce or eliminate education costs. They deliver books to rural school libraries, orphanages, and community resource centers. Through the Girls Empowerment Collections, they provide picture books and novels for girls at the primary, secondary, and college levels in Africa. 

What they’ve achieved: Books for Africa is committed to providing African children with access to books and educational resources. They have delivered over 55 million books to children all over Africa. For example, in 2021 alone, they shipped over 3.1 million countries to 28 African countries. They also delivered 224 computers and e-readers containing 885,000 digital books to different parts of Africa. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Books for Africa through their website. You can also support them by donating new or gently used books for shipping to Africa. In addition, you can volunteer to work with their warehouses if you live in Georgia or Minnesota in the US.

Everybody Wins DC: Helping Children Thrive Through Books and Reading

Everybody Wins DC was founded in 1995 by a group of senators and senate staff as a volunteer reading program to help children develop critical skills needed to support academic and social growth. Today, they are a charity serving children and families in Washington DC through shared reading. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Everybody Wins scores 100 out of 100 for Finance and Accountability on Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Everybody Wins DC believes that when children read or are read to, they can build the skills needed to thrive in the classroom and life.”

Everybody Wins DC

What they do: Everybody Wins DC offers children opportunities to learn and grow through the power of a good book. Their Power Readers program is a one-on-one shared reading experience focused on helping students build relationships and develop literacy and social-emotional skills. Through StoryTime, they use stories read aloud to engage children’s minds and introduce them to diverse life experiences. Their Book Project delivers new books, for free, to children and their families to help them build their home libraries. 

What they’ve achieved: Everybody Wins DC helps students develop the literacy and social-emotional skills critical to success at school and in life. For example, in the 2021-2022 school year, they served 7,749 students in 46 program locations. They also partnered with 153 organizations and distributed 12,000 free books in the region.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Everybody Wins DC through their website. You can also support them by becoming a sponsor of their programs. In addition, you can join the Storytellers Society to impact children in the DC area through books significantly.

Make Way for Books: Share Stories, Change Lives.

Make Way for Books was created in 1998 by Dr Mary Jan Bancroft to provide quality books and literary resources to economically-disadvantaged preschoolers in Arizona. Today, they help young children in Arizona discover the joy of books and develop literacy and language skills to prepare them for school.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Make Way for Books has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. They also hold a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Our mission is to give all children the chance to read and succeed.”

Make Way for Books

What they do: Make Way for Books organizes programs to impact the lives of children, their families, and educators across Arizona. For example, through Story School, they help children develop the literacy and language skills they need to start school ready to read. They also enable parents to discover their power to create a positive future for their children and children. In addition, their Story Project provides research-based early literacy support to educators, parents, and children at preschools, child care centers, and home providers.

What they’ve achieved: Make Way for Books helps over 18,000 young children, parents, and educators throughout Arizona annually. And 75% of children who participated in Make Way for Books programs during their pre-kindergarten years passed standardized reading assessments in kindergarten, first, second, and third grades. For example, in 2021, 98% of children in the Story School program developed increased vocabulary skills. Also, 95% of children developed increased comprehension skills. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Make Way for Books through their website. You can also support them by volunteering to deliver books or work in their office. In addition, you can also host a book drive in your community.

World Literacy Foundation: Changing Lives Through Literacy

The World Literacy Foundation was established in 2003 by Andrew G. Kay to provide literacy support to disadvantaged children struggling to read and write. Since then, they have grown into a global charity helping children acquire literacy skills to succeed at school and in life.

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial reports, the World Literacy Foundation used 95.8% of their expenditure to carry out literacy projects and research to improve children’s literacy skills globally.

“The World Literacy Foundation is on a mission to ensure that every child, regardless of geographic location, has the opportunity to acquire literacy skills and books to reach their full potential.”

World Literacy Foundation

What they do: The World Literacy Foundation provides children with books and educational resources to help them discover the joy of reading. Through their Read for Wellness program, they improve the literacy and well-being of chronically ill children through essential resources tailored to their needs. They equip parents through mentoring programs to instil a passion for reading in their children and build a habit of reading at home. They also use innovative technology, such as Sun Books, to advance the learning of children in remote communities in English and their native language. 

What they’ve achieved: The World Literacy Foundation is committed to helping children learn to read and write. For example, in 2021, they reached over 191,000 children and families through their programs. They also distributed over 224,000 books globally. In addition, they successfully carried out over 181 literacy activities, including fundraising events and book distributions in the US. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the World Literacy Foundation through their website. You can also support them by volunteering as an online book reader, translator, or social media manager. In addition, you can start a fundraiser for literacy. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that promote children’s literacy. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to promoting children’s literacy – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

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PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:


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Eniola Adeeko

Eniola loves to research and write about providing humanitarian aid and access to proper education and literacy to underprivileged children around the world. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law and volunteers with her local Red Cross chapter. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading novels, cooking new dishes, and creating podcasts.

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