7 Literary Charities to Get Involved With This Holiday Season

Now that the comforts of warm sunny September days are over and the cold winds have travelled towards us here in New York, people have been settling into the idea of winter and the traditions that follow it. And just like that comes the holiday season.


You may be the type to continue avoiding strangers at all costs on your daily commute or you may feel compelled to start giving more charitably. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner there certainly is a snug and cheerful atmosphere about us despite hiding under a million layers and your great aunts dead ferret scarf. Here’s how you can get more charitable in a literary sense:


1. NYC Books Through Bars


Books Through Bars

Image Via Melville Books House


This is a charitiy that is certainly worth your time getting involved in. Books Through Bars is a volunteer-run group that sends free, donated reading material to incarcerated people across the nation. Volunteers can offer to help and pitch in at Freebird Bookstore in Brooklyn on 123 Columbia St. Volunteer work consists of opening letters, choosing books, and packing them up to be mailed. The website reads, “no need to call ahead – just come by” and you can do this on Monday 7:30-9:30pm and on Sundays 2-5pm to meet some friendly faces and to help somebody somewhere to read their favourite book again.


2. Girls Write Now


Girls Write Now

Image Via Maud Newton


This organisation gives young women a voice and opportunities for success by pairing “at risk and undeserved girls from New York City’s public high schools” with professional female writers to “develop their creative, independent voices, to explore careers in professional writing and to learn how to make healthy school, career and life choices. Influential women writers who have helped mentor include Roxanne Gay, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, and Zadie Smith. Broad City‘s Abbi and Ilana have said of Girls Write Now that “it is important to be validated by women and to validate other women.” This organisation has been a success for twenty years now.


3. Little Free Library


Little Free Library

Image Via Signature Reads


A non-profit organization created to facilitate literacy and community, the first Little Free Library was erected in 2009 in the small town of Hudson, WI by Todd Bol, who wished to memorialise his book-loving mother in a sweet way. “Take a book, return a book” is what Mr Boll painted on the first mini library. Since 2009, hundreds of little libraries have popped up all over America and the world for those who wish to share skills, creativity, and wisdom. Help build a community, spark creativity and inspire new, young and seasoned readers by donating a book to one of these libraries or by erecting your own in your neighbourhood to further widen the reach of this organisation. Details on how to build a book-house is on the website.


4. Books Abroad


Book Abroad

Image Via Books Abroad


Books Abroad has donated over 3 million books and has helped over 2,000 schools on its million to alleviate poverty through education. In doing so, Books Abroad takes in used books that would otherwise be discarded, and donates them to children and schools all over the world. Today there are over 740 million illiterate people in the world and hundreds of book charities are looking to decrease this number as much as possible. Apply here for a chance to help out with this one over this holiday season.


5. Women’s Prison Book Project


Women in Prison

Image Via WBPB


Since 1994, the Women’s Prison Book Project has been offering free reading materials to women and transgender persons in prison in order to provide them with mental awareness and a method of escapism from their daily lives behind bars. The mission of this organization is to begin a conversation about education within the justice system and for the last 14 years they have changed the lives of many incarcerated persons by offering books that provide knowledge on law, health, history, politics, and much more. This organisation poses literature as a connection to the world beyond the fence. As with the other book donation charities on this list, you can easily apply to volunteer here. The charity is situated on 2002 23rd Ave South in Minneapolis and volunteers can pop in on Sundays 12-3pm to help sort the 600 book requests the organisation gets per month.


6. Project Night Night


Project Night Night

Image Via Project Night Night


If you have a spare blanket or stuffed animal lying around the house that you have no use for anymore, Project Night Night is looking for them. This charity donates over 25,000 packages a year that each include a blanket and a teddy bear along with a children’s book to homeless children under the age of twelve. If you remember clinging onto one of these items for the duration of your childhood then you are aware of the importance of these comforts in creating a safe and secure mindset, especially for those kiddos who are facing traumatic situations. Ensure the homeless kids in your community feel special by volunteering or donating here.


7. Living Paintings


Living Paintings

Image Via Portfield School


Living Paintings offers a free online library of tactile and audiobooks to the public. This UK-based publishing house and library seeks to help bring the visual world to blind and partially sighted people and by seeking to end isolation for the visually impaired, this organisation has sparked an inspiring movement. Donate or volunteer here.


Feature Image Via Time Out