Homes For Retired Books

So, now’s the time of year when it’s (reasonably) socially acceptable to clear your throat and nod sideways at the charitable causes you feel other people should be giving money, goods, and/or time to.

And while I’m not much of a spare-change collector, I am going to point out a few good uses you can put your extra books to. Because, let’s be honest… we all believe the right book at the right time can change someone’s life forever.

  • Prison Libraries I’m starting with this one because it’s something that doesn’t automatically jump to mind, and because one of my first jobs after college was teaching in a prison. I spent a lot of hours in what might be the sparse-est library I’ve ever seen in my life. I know there are more deserving recipients, but it’s hard to imagine a charity with a more immediate effect.
  • Domestic Violence Shelters Books for both adults and children who are going through tough times. I’m not going to call what I saw here a “library,” even. There was a shelf. It had a few books on it.
  • Homeless Shelters I think we’ve all read about how much difference owning even one book can have on a child’s life.
  • School Libraries
  • Public Libraries
  • And Little Free Libraries You know… like the boxes you build in your own front yard. Might lead to getting to know the neighbors, but just the ones who like to read

I’m sure there are others. You can find charities to ship them to developing countries, or charities that will support x, y, or z cause using the money from their sale.

I’m not mentioning any specific charities by name, because I don’t have the time to do due-diligence, and because I think local is the way to go. Build the book community you’re in.


  1. Reply

    Thanks you for mentioning prison libraries. It’s definitely not something that comes to mind when you think of donating books. But like you said – it has a pretty immediate effect. There are so many inmates that come out that can tell you how books have had a huge impact on them in a good way.

    Great list altogether. Thanks for giving us all these ideas for our unwanted books.

    • Reply

      I know I was always struck by how many of them *wanted* to change their lives, and by how few tools they had to do that.

  2. Reply

    All good recommendations, thank you for sharing. The Free Little Libraries, I like to take one and leave two. The Women’s Shelter I donate to a couple of times a year cleaning out different areas of my home from sheets to dishes to food choices I no longer can eat. I had actually never thought of the prison’s library or lack thereof.
    Wonderful ideas.

    • Reply

      The last Women’s Shelter I was in absolutely needed all the help it could get! I’ll leave it at that, but thanks for mentioning they do take a whole spectrum of donation.

  3. Reply

    My Dad works in a jail. He told my mom about the library situation there and she wound up collecting dozens of boxes of books for donation, books of every stripe. I was super happy.

  4. Reply

    These are some fantastic ideas. I wouldn’t have thought of many of them, to be honest. But now I will have to look into it. I’ve only ever donated to the library or goodwill. Thanks for the tips!

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