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  • Writer's pictureTara M Stewart

Book Lover's Guide to Donating Books with a Purpose

Are you looking to donate your children's old books or downsize your own collection? Look no further than this book lover-friendly list of purposeful donation options. Spread the love of reading and free up space on your bookshelves at the same time!

Marie Kondo's suggestion of limiting book collections to just 30 may not sit well with avid readers like myself. For our family and our clients who have a large collection of books, it's essential to find a great way to give them a second life. While you can always donate them to popular organizations like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and Salvation Army, there are other resources that specialize in book donations.

donated sheet music

Recently, I reached out to my Instagram followers for recommendations on local charities for book donations. Here are a few of their suggestions, listed alphabetical by state.

Want to add your city's book donation organization to the list? Feel free to leave a comment below. Don't forget to check out the nationwide locations listed at the bottom as well!

But please, before I get started a reminder:

DO NOT donate books that are damaged, worn, or have missing pages or ruined covers.

Nonprofit Organizations in the Local Community

The Children's Book Project - San Francisco, California

This organization strives to cater to the needs of its community by accepting new and gently used books for children aged 0-18. They particularly welcome books for bilingual children (especially in Spanish or Chinese), early readers, board books, and books featuring diverse characters.

They offer a variety of book drop locations. They are all listed here. If you aren NOT local to San Francisco you can still donate your books - just ship them to this address:

Children’s Book Project 3433 21st Street San Francisco CA 94110

ReRead Books - Cheshire, Connecticut

This non-profit organization accepts a wide variety of books, but also strives to curate a collection that is diverse and inclusive, featuring a broad range of interests and perspectives.

This unique bookstore not only accepts book donations, but also employs individuals with special abilities, making it an exceptional place to shop for second-hand books. Show your support by stopping by and picking up a "new to you" book.

To learn more about Reread head HERE or stop by:

ReRead Books

104 Elm St

Cheshire, Connecticut 06410

International Book Project - Lexington, Kentucky

Founded in 1966, International Book Project has shipped close to 8 million books to 168 countries. Their mission is to provide books and promote literacy to a multitude of under-served communities.

In central Kentucky, just a few of the many organization they provide resources to are: Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, Family Resource Centers, and local prisons. The books they ship overseas careful deleted and go to libraries and schools.

Click here to see a list of the types of books they do and do not accept.

International Book Project

1440 Delaware Avenue

Lexington, KY 40505

While Lexington has several library locations, it is only the Central branch that accepts donations on Monday and Tuesday 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. Please check their website to see if they have update the donation hours since this post.

Central Library

140 East Main Street

Lexington, KY 40507

(859) 231-5505

The Prison Book Program* - Quincy, Massachusetts

This program goes beyond just sending free books and print resources to those in prison - it also offers a volunteer program that connects individuals both inside and outside of the prison system.

It's important to note that only certain books are allowed in this program; please refer to the list provided here. Additionally, specific drop-off days and times are in place, so be sure to sign up for a spot by clicking here.

Not local? Don't worry, you can still mail your books to this program. Here's the address you need to send them to. To save money, use Media Mail.

Prison Book Program 1306 Hancock Street, Suite 100 Quincy, MA 02169

NYC Books Through Bars* - Brooklyn, New York

When Victoria Law was just nineteen, she co-founded the New York branch of the "Books Through Bars" program. The initiative aimed to provide prisoners with books that were not typically available in correctional facilities, with a focus on literature that would inspire critical thinking.

It's worth noting that there are specific criteria for book donations, which can be found here. Although some donation centers may not accept certain items, they commonly request English dictionaries, Spanish/English dictionaries, and thesauruses.

If you don't have any books to give that fit their criteria, but want to support their mission, check out their BookMooch wishlist and Greenlight wishlist for a list of the specifics books they need the most.

Book Fairies - Freeport, New York

This nonprofit provides books to under-resourced communities on Long Island AND Internationally.

Book Fairies started in 2012 and they gather new and gently used books and give them directly to children who have less access to books due to financial needs. They also help to build school and classroom libraries.

To learn more about their programs click here.

Book Fairies

70 North Main Street

Freeport, New York 11520

This bookstore focuses on children's books only. So as you are decluttering your child's room be on the look out for a younger range of books they have outgrown, such as board books, alphabet books, rhyming books and more. For a full list of what they accept click here.

They also accept a supplies needed in their book cleaning process, which if you live outside of the Portland area, you can still ship them. A list of those items can be found here.

Children's Book Bank at SMART Reading

1915 NE 7th Ave

Portland, OR 97212

Books Through Bars*- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For more than three decades, Books Through Bars has been providing free books to incarcerated individuals in six mid-Atlantic states: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Not local to Philadelphia, you can also ship books to them. For all the details on the books they need and how to arrange a drop off or shipment head here.

The Children's Book Bank - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Since 2008 this nonprofit has been providing free books and literacy support to children in high-needs areas neighbor in Toronto. The goal being to improve literacy rates and socioeconomic outcomes.

The organization has given away over 120,000 donated books to children in need - those books came from donors.

The Book Bank is only able to accept books at their warehouse during specific times found here. You can find their book donation guidelines here.

You can purchase books second hand from one of their two stores to further support this nonprofit.

The Children's Book Bank

585 Dundas Street E

Suite 260

Toronto, ON MSA 2B7


561 Sherbourne Street

Level P3

Toronto, ON M4X 0A1

donated books

National organizations for book donations

If you did not see your city listed in this post here are some options to consider:

In addition if you're looking to get your children's book in front of the right audience, try reaching out to local daycares, preschools, aftercare programs or elementary schools. Consider reaching out to schools with limited PTA/PTO support or general funding. Also, some cities have "little libraries" that are a fantastic resource for sharing books with those in need.

* There are "Books to Prisoners” groups in the in over 30 states, Canada and England. PLEASE check for your city, state HERE.

What if I want to monetize my books?

While it's possible to make some money from selling your books, the truth is, when it comes to typically every day books, that the profit margin is minuscule. Our experience has shown that clients who were eager to sell their books discovered that the returns were not worth it. In fact, when they visit the resale store they sometimes ended up spending more on new books than they made on the old ones.

However if you want to try for yourself here are two places. Half Price Books and 2nd & Charles.

What about rare books?

If you possess rare books, collaborating with a high-end book seller is your best bet. Below are a few recommendations:

stack of donated books

If you find yourself needing a little more motivation to keep going check out the following videos:

Our team is dedicated to finding the best possible home for your donated items. We do this with patience, grace, and empathy, ensuring that every item is delivered to the right place. This is just one of the many ways our team goes above and beyond to help you. You can find our FREE PDFs that list more resources like this HERE.



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