Donating books – Seven places that want your used books.

6 places that want your used books

So you’ve got a pile of gently used picture books that your kids have long outgrown, or maybe it’s that dusty pile of current chick-lit by your bedside that you want to clear out.

Here’s a few ideas on how to donate those gently used books to an organization that can get them into the hands of someone who’s eager to read them.

1.  Local Charities

Donationtown is a great website that can help match you with a local charity.  Just enter your zip code and find a local group that will come to your home and pick up your donations.  Not just for books, but clothes, toys, furniture, etc. — Enter your zip code and find a local charity that will come and pick up your donations.

Organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will take books and sell them in their stores.

2. National Groups

These groups focus primarily on getting children’s books into the hands of needy kids.

BookEnds, a nonprofit organization based in Southern California, is about Kids Helping Kids. BookEnds’ recycles children’s books through student-run book drives and places them in schools and youth organizations in need of books.

Kids in Need, Books in Deed Kids in Need – Books in Deed is a nonprofit organization that brings free books and free author visits to Kids in Need throughout the state of Florida.

Reading Tree Reading Tree places and maintains book collection bins in communities across the country. By collecting and redistributing used books, we are able to support literacy programs by providing fundamental books to kids.

Darien Book Aid Plan This non-profit, all volunteer organization that builds a foundation of peace, understanding, and friendship by distributing free books. Book Aid sends books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers, libraries and schools all over the world Books are also donated to libraries, prisons, hospitals, Native American and Appalachian groups in the United States.

Reader to Reader A non-profit organization that distributes books to schools and libraries in need.

3. International Charities

The Book Bus – The Book Bus Foundation was founded in 2007 by Tom Maschler with the aim of spreading literacy and the joy of reading to children in Zambia. The Book Bus now operates in Malawi and Ecuador as well as Zambia. The Book Bus provides a mobile service and actively promotes literacy to underprivileged communities in Zambia and Ecuador. The legacy of each Book Bus visit is a reading corner and bookshelves stocked with children’s books.

Book Aid International – This organization increases access to books to support literacy, education and development in sub-Saharan Africa, Palestine and Sri Lanka.

Books Abroad – Books Abroad believes that, in the long term, education is what is required to help solve the worlds problems. With the power to read and write, the children of today will have a better understanding of the issues surrounding them.

Nearly all types of books are accepted by the International Book Project, Inc. of Lexington, Kentucky.  Although the International Book Project works mainly in developing countries, last year we also partnered with several organizations working in underserved communities within the U.S.

International Book Project – This international nonprofit whose mission is to promote education and literacy while broadening Americans’ understanding of their neighbors by sending quality used books overseas.

Books for International Goodwill – Books for International Goodwill (B.I.G.) has successfully recycled used books for productive use by those who need books for schools and libraries to improve literacy in developing communities around the world. B.I.G. is a project begun by the Parole Rotary Club of Annapolis and is now an independent non-profit entity. It’s motto is “Spreading Literacy by Keeping Books Alive”.

4.  Libraries.

Call your local library to find out if you can donate to them.  Many libraries will take your books and sell them in their used book fund raisers.

5. Hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters.

Hospitals and clinics frequently accept donations of books for their waiting rooms and patients.  I know from running book drives that nursing homes love to get romance novels and biographies. Also, there’s a local family shelter in my area that is alway looking for teen/YA books for their bigger kids.  Find out what your local organizations need.

6. Prisons.

Until I started researching this article, it had never occurred to me to donate books to the corrections system.  I know not everyone will agree, but I think this is a wonderful idea.  Take note that frequently they’ll only accept paperback book donations.

Check out this map and click on your state —  prison books programs throughout North America (Google map).

Specific programs.

Prison Book Program of Quincy, Massachusetts

Books to Prisoners of Seattle, Washington;

Books Through Bars of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Prison Book Project of Amherst, Massachusetts.

Women’s Prison Book Project of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

7.  Other great ideas.

Set them free!  Book Crossing is a really fun idea. Go to Book Crossing’s website to download their labels, create your own custom labels, or order labels from them then fill it out, register your book online, then leave it in a public space and see if anyone else registers it.

Milk and Bookies A nationwide charitable organization that inspires children to give back, using books as its currency.  If your child has a birthday coming up and doesn’t feel the need to receive 30+ new toys, then Milk and Bookies can show you how to host a party where your child collects books for charities.


For more organizations and charities with a book/literacy focus in the US and Canada, this is a very useful list on The Reading Tub’s wiki page about Literacy Organizations.

Also, the American Library Association has a useful list at Book Donation Programs.