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Five book charities for low-income kids you should know about

May 23, 2016

A while back I told you why it's so important to read to babies from the time they're born. When you do, it stimulates language skills and cognitive thinking, encourages bonding between parents and kids, and sets the stage for school readiness.

But when it comes to children living in poverty, this is easier said than done. For these kids, books are scarce. Two-thirds of children living in poverty in the U.S. have no kids books at home. A study of low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia, for example, found a ratio of one book for sale for every 300 children.

Here's a list of five charities that try to change that by bringing books to kids who need them:

1. Milk+Bookies

Milk and Bookies gets kids involved in the process of bringing books to other kids in underserved sectors of their communities. Milk+Bookies provides all the tools, resources, support, and instruction for anyone wanting to host their own Milk+Bookies parties, or "book-raisers." Founded in 2008, the organization has raised more than 327,000 books to date.

2. Kids Need to Read

Kids Need to Read provides book collections and engaging literacy programs to underfunded schools, libraries, and organizations across the country. With sponsored programs like READ Together!, Grow Your Library, and Reading Revolution, KNTR gives all children and adolescents access to quality books "no matter their race, economic status, or capabilities."

3. Project Night Night

Project Night Night donates over 25,000 Night Night Packages each year to homeless children. These canvas tote bags contain blankets, an age-appropriate children's book, and a stuffed animal to "reduce trauma and advance the emotional and cognitive well-being" of kids in need, according to the organization's website.

4. Pajama Program

Pajama Program provides new pajamas and books to children in need nationwide, many of whom are waiting to be adopted. These kids live in group homes, shelters, and temporary housing facilities. And some are living with their families, as low as 200 percent below the poverty line. Pajama Program has delivered more than 4 million pajamas and books to kids since 2001.

5. First Book

First Book has provided free and low-cost books to thousands of communities since 1992. To date, it has distributed more than 135 million books to kids in need. According to the nonprofit, it now distributes more books every single day than in its entire first year.

About 42 percent of American kids — more than 31 million — grow up in families that struggle to cover basic needs like rent, child care, food and transportation. And providing kids who are already at a disadvantage with books is important because experts agree that books should be seen as a necessity, not a luxury.