African Library Project


Step 3 - Sort your books

The purpose of sorting is to send to Africa only those books that are truly useful for your African library. The remaining books should be donated, swapped or sold elsewhere. This will save you postage money and ensure that every book you send is well used.

You will want to sort by size in order to get ready for packing. In addition, if you have collected books for more than one library, you will need to sort by level to ensure that each library gets a range of reading levels. Sorting takes time, so sort regularly to avoid an intimidating mountain of books at the end of your book drive.


Overall Guidelines

Paperback books are less expensive to mail. Send hardcover books as your funds allow.

  • A library of 1,000 mostly paperback books will cost at least $250 to mail to the shipper’s warehouse, while 1,000 hardcover books can cost as much as $500.
  • A library of more than 1,000 books will increase the mailing costs.
  • You will also be asked to pay ALP $250 to cover the cost of shipping the books from the warehouse to your library in Africa.

Send only books in good condition. Most books that appeal to Americans will also appeal to Africans. 

    DO SEND books that fit your African partner’s type of library:

    • If you are donating to a PRESCHOOL (ECCD Center):
      • Baby Board Books
      • Children’s picture books
      • BIG books
    • If you are donating to a PRIMARY SCHOOL: SortyourbooksJJ-MV_ALP_10
      • Baby board books
      • Children’s picture books
      • Children’s fiction and non-fiction
      • Early readers
      • BIG books
      • Teacher's resource books for school libraries
      • Children’s dictionaries/picture dictionaries
      • Encyclopedias less than 15 years old
      • Children’s encyclopedias/picture encyclopedias
      • Children’s thesauruses
      • Paperback textbooks in math, English, geography, health, and science at appropriate level (kindergarten to 6th grade). Send no more than two copies of any texbook; these will be used for teacher resources.
      • Books with universal themes (friendships, animals, love)
      • Children's books teaching life skills about health, hygiene, adolescence and careers
      • Accurate up-to-date atlases
      • Books about Africa or African-Americans
      • Educational children's science and literary magazines in good condition
      • Brain teasers, flash cards, educational games and puzzles
    • If you are donating to a SECONDARY or HIGH SCHOOL:
      • Juvenile literature
      • Children’s fiction and non-fiction
      • Teacher's resource books for school libraries
      • Dictionaries
      • Encyclopedias less than 15 years old
      • Accurate up-to-date atlases
      • Thesauruses
      • Math books from 6th grade up, including algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus, English books (focusing on grammar or comprehension), geography books, health books, science books including general science, biology, chemistry, and physics at appropriate level. Send no more than two copies of any textbook, these will be used as a teacher resource.
      • Life skills books about health, hygiene, adolescence, careers, etc.
      • Books with universal themes (friendships, animals, love)
      • Books like Chicken Soup for the Soul (inspiring stories with life skills lessons)
      • Books about Africa or African-Americans
      • Educational kids science and literary magazines in good condition
      • Brain teasers, flash cards, educational games and puzzles
    • If you are donating to a COMMUNITY LIBRARY: Sort_Your_Books-JJ-PA_26
      • Any of the books listed for Primary and High Schools
      • Agriculture
      • Animal husbandry
      • Gardening
      • Health
      • Business
      • Current events
      • Ecology
      • National Geographic, less than 5 years old, especially with articles featuring Africa.
      • Books about Africa or African-Americans

    Book Examples by Reading Level

    4th grade titles:

  • Horrible Harry by Susan Kline
  • Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
  • Magic Treehouse series (4th grade and below) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Because of Winn-Dixie and Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  •  6th grade titles:

  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  •  7th/8th grade titles:

  • Lord of the Rings series/The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  • Books by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner
  • Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
  • DON’T SEND but donate elsewhere: 

    • Books that are filled with small, dense print  that might be too intimidating or boring for the age level
    • Books with lots of slang, which may be difficult for English learners to follow
    • Books for very young children that have many references to appliances and electronic gadgets.
    • Adult paperback romance novels
    • Books about United States or Canadian history or government (but DO SEND books about African-Americans)
    • Books about North American or religious holidays (Easter, Halloween, Christmas, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, April Fools Day, Valentine’s Day, Chanukah, etc.)
    • Books that evangelize or promote a particular religion
    • Magazines except for children's educational magazines and National Geographics less than 5 years old

      What can you do with books that you collect but don't send?  Here are a few ideas.

      • Donate them to your local library, jail, or shelter.
      • Organize a book sale and use the money to help fund your shipping costs.
      • Ship them to Better World Books (BWB) for them to sell online, and BWB will donate a portion of the profit to the African Library Project (not your specific book drive).  Here's how it works:
        • Check at Better World Books website to see the types of books they collect.
        • If you have 200+ sellable books, email  Include how many books you have, your phone number and that you want the books to support the African Library Project.
        • BWB will set you up with free shipping through UPS or a freight pickup (depending on the volume) and donate 10% of net sales of your books to the African Library Project.
        • If you have raised enough money to cover the shipping costs yourself to BWB, they will give you a tracking code and the address of their warehouse and return 30% of net sales to ALP.
        • Let us know that you have sent books to Better World Books so we can look for their donation to ALP on your behalf.

        Still have questions? Contact us at

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