Last week, I shared with you a bunch of places to find free print books for kids. This week, we’ll talk about places to donate books so others can enjoy them! If your house is anything like mine, you have an insane amount of children’s books stored in boxes and bins that your kids have outgrown. I’ve always been pretty passionate about growing Jake’s library. Maybe a little too passionate! Now that he’s moved on to middle-grade fiction, I’m looking for happy homes for all of his baby, preschool and elementary school books.
The obvious choice is to donate to your local library. The problem? Many libraries only accept donations during certain times of the year, like when they’re getting ready for an annual book sale. So where else can I donate books? Let’s find out!
Places to Donate Books (Besides the Library)
Let’s start with a few local ideas, then we’ll branch out a bit to places online to donate books, shall we? If you have bins upon bins of books, shipping them off isn’t always practical.
Friends and Family
Start with the obvious! One great way to do this: organize a book swap party! Invite friends and family with kids of all ages and ask them to bring books that they want to get rid of, then let the kids “shop” the selections. This idea works best if you have a mixed group of kids because the older ones can pass down books to younger children. Now is a good time to go through your own YA collection to set out a selection for the teens in the group.
Call your child’s school and ask if they accept gently used books for the library or individual classrooms. If they say no (some public schools have rules about where they get their books, I have no idea why), try private and charter schools. If your books are geared more towards the preschool crowd, check with local daycares and preschool centers (especially those that work with low-income families, like Head Start).
Sounds weird, but hear me out. Food pantries often organize other drives throughout the year, from toy distributions during the holidays to back-to-school “shops” for low-income families. Sometimes they only take books that look new, especially if they’re using them for the holiday toy drive (every child deserves to have something new for Christmas). Even if they don’t take them, they work with a lot of other local resources and can point you in the right direction.
Children’s hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics and even nursing homes (kids do come to visit their grandparents!) may accept some book donations. They most likely won’t want your 20 bins of books, but you’ll be able to get rid of a few of them at least.
Local military base
If you live near a military base, get in touch with the thrift store, the Morale, Health & Welfare office or the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to find out about donating your books. Books on Bases may also be able to help you donate your books to a military base.
Big Hearted Books Donation Bins
I haven’t seen these in my area, but you may have one near you (or you can host your own container if you work for a charitable organization). You find a bin in your area and drop off your books. The books go to people in need AND the host charity earns money for their cause. Check out Big Hearted Books to learn more. Better World Books also hosts book drop bins.
Organizations that put you in touch with local drop-offs or pick-ups.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to use one of these organizations. Sadly, none of them are available in my area. If you live in a city, though, you’ll probably have better luck.
- PickUpPlease: schedule a pickup to donate your used books to veterans.
- GladToGive: Use their zip code search to find a participating charity near you, then fill up a Glad bag and drop it off.
- DonationTown: Enter your zip code and they’ll put you in touch with a local charity that will come pick up your donation.
- Donate My Books: Picks up book donations, but it’s only in Nevada.
ALA Book Donations List
The American Library Association maintains a list of places to donate books. The problem? The most recent entry was from last year, so it some of it may be outdated. Still, it’s a pretty extensive list and worth a look.
10 Online organizations that accept book donations
If you exhaust your local options and want to branch out a bit, plenty of online charities and organizations accept book donations. A few may even cover the cost of shipping. If you do have to pay for shipping out of pocket, go with media mail. I checked the rates the other day because I’m sending books down to my niece. A 40lb box costs just over $21 to ship. Below are a few online places to donate books. Please be sure to read their guidelines. Some only accept new books. I’m including them in case you want to support their initiatives by buying books or in case you have some new, unread books in your personal library.
- Books for Africa: They do have a drop-off location in St. Paul, MN and Atlanta, GA
- Books for America: Accepts new and gently used books in certain categories.
- Books for Kids : Contact them first before donating. They only accept brand new hardcover books
- Book Aid
- Brother’s Brother Foundation: You will need to give them a list of books that you’re considering donating. They do accept gently used books.
- Darien Book Aid Plan: They take used books that are still in great condition.
- Bridge to Asia: sends books to needy regions in Asia. Accepts gently used books.
- Bernie’s Book Bank in Chicago accepts new and gently used books for kids ages 0-6.
- Reader to Reader: gently used or new from children through teen.
- Open Books: keep in mind that they may sell rather than donate your book, BUT they use funds from their shops to support their charitable work.
If you can think of any places to donate books that I missed, or if you know of an organization that accepts used book donations, let me know in the comments!