If you're looking to wind down the year with some tax write offs, I hope you'll consider donating to some literacy-oriented causes. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Why do we need diverse books? Because representation in books is important.
Most children's books follow the adventures of little white boys, which is great if you're a white boy, but other kinds of kids need to know that they can be the superhero and the baseball star and the time traveling genius and the doctor and the scientist and the wizard, too. All kids, not just white boys, should be given the affirmation that they're capable and that they, too, can follow their dreams. That starts with empowering them when they're young. That starts with seeing themselves in books and letting them think "maybe that can be me one day."
We Need Diverse Books is a nonprofit dedicated to pushing equitable representation in publishing and providing people with marginalized identities who want to go into the publishing industry the opportunities to do so. For example, most publishing execs got started because they were able to take an unpaid internship, but if you don't come from a wealthy family who can afford to pay for your NYC rent for months on end while you make no money, then you're screwed. This is one of the many tangible ways We Need Diverse Books is helping change the publishing industry---and readers' perceptions of what good books are---for the better.
In an age where clickbait rules the land, investigative journalism is more important than ever. But unfortunately good investigative journalism is expensive to produce because you need highly trained professionals to do it right. Not only that, you want investigative reporting to be independent---not have people worried the news is watered down to keep from offending an advertiser or politician or something.
Enter ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization that produces investigative journalism for the public interest. ProPublica works for the people, not for advertisers or rich people with an agenda. You can trust them because they're not beholden to anyone.
Though not directly related to the teaching of reading, the identification of quality news sources is a crucial component to literacy. What good is it to know how to read if we're unable to discern between fact and opinion, rational and sensational? To me, there's little difference between illiteracy and ignorant literacy.
Free speech is always a matter of literacy: in the literal sense of literacy as the act of being able to read and comprehend text, but also in the metaphorical sense that we must have a cultural and political literacy as a society. We must know our rights. We must know our history. We must know what horrors our society is capable of so we can put a stop to them and recognize the signs should they begin to arise again. We must have the freedom to speak and write and learn without fear. True literacy--literacy in all its many and varied forms--is not possible without free speech. So we must support it.
The ACLU helps uphold the First Amendment and educate the public on the rights they have, as well as any potential threats to those rights. They have been at the forefront of nearly every Supreme Court case fighting to uphold our basic rights as Americans for decades, then educating the common people about their work and why it's important. Learning one's basic, fundamental rights is a crucial aspect of literacy.
Literacy doesn't stop when someone has learned how to read. Literacy doesn't stop when someone has learned to comprehend what they read. Literacy is an ongoing battle that comes in many forms and is an ever-moving target. We must move with it and address its many and varied forms. Consider all the ways in which literacy (or the lack thereof) influences are society and please donate as your means will allow.