- 28 January 2014
- by Megan Foo
The best way to curb illiteracy is obvious: simply read, read, read. However, the distressing reality is that many children all over the world do not have access to basic reading materials, fomenting a vicious cycle marked by intergenerational transmission of illiteracy. Thankfully, nonprofits all over the world are working tirelessly to champion literacy and improve youth access to reading resources. Read Indeed, a nonprofit that collects and distributes books to impoverished youth around the globe, is one such organization. As the brainchild of 13-year-old Maria Keller, Read Indeed aims to spark positive change in this world, “one book at a time”.
Resolute in her fight to eradicate illiteracy, Maria notes that her desire to start Read Indeed was fueled by the dire prospects that many children face, prospects that limit their potential to succeed in school and beyond. “I learned that some kids have never owned a book,” Maria remarks. “I decided to change this and get books to as many kids as possible.” She is also fully cognizant of the power of education in lifting families out of the poverty trap; held close to her heart is a belief that education is an effective catalyst of individual empowerment: “Without education and the tools needed for educational success, kids simply can’t do well. They can’t get out of the poverty situation that they may find themselves in.”
Eight years of age at the time of Read Indeed’s inception, Maria set an ambitious goal from the outset: to distribute one million books to children in need of reading materials by the time she turned 18. With 1,032,067 books collected and distributed to date, Maria has fulfilled her objectives five years early. Reminiscing about past book projects with Read Indeed, Maria observes that whenever children received books from Read Indeed, “They cherish these books, especially when they learn they can keep them.” Her favorite parts about spearheading book projects with Read Indeed include giving the books directly to children at book donation events and seeing the smiles on their faces: “I just love getting the hugs and smiles from these kids, all of whom have never owned a book. I love seeing their faces and their awe that some other kid has helped them in this way.”
The future of Read Indeed is nothing short of promising. While Maria has already surpassed her 1 million books target, she feels like she has “barely made a dent in the illiteracy issue facing the U.S. and other countries”. She hopes to join hands with more students and partner organizations, extending her reach to other world regions. Youth and scholastic involvement in Read Indeed is a critical constituent of her dream: “I’d love to have Read Indeed chapters in various U.S cities where other kids do book drives,” she explains.