Meet Maria Keller, a book-loving 16-year-old who wants to make the world a better place—one book at a time. Maria began Read Indeed when she was 8 years old and her original goal was to collect and distribute 1 million books to kids in need by the time she turned 18. She accomplished that goal before the age of 13! Now Maria wants to distribute books to all 50 states in the U.S. and every country in the world. Having donated more than 2 million books, Maria has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.
Girls & Co: What inspired you to start Read Indeed?
Maria Keller: At age 8 I was an avid reader. I began to notice some kids didn't read as much as I did and when I asked my mom about it, she said that some children simply don't enjoy reading and others don't have any books in their homes. I looked at my bookshelves that were overflowing with hundreds of books and decided I wanted to get books to kids who don't have any.
What have you learned from the experience?
I've learned that patience and tenacity are key attributes needed when you set a goal. I've also learned a tremendous amount about the goodness and kindness of people.
What advice would you give a young person who is considering launching a venture of her own?
Be sure to ask for guidance and assistance, and be open to new ideas.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Take deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed. And remember to relax and have fun as life is an amazing journey!
What's an important lesson that you learned back when you were younger that is still relevant now?
One of the biggest lessons that I learned, that still bodes true today is that you are never too young or too old to make a difference.
Who has had the biggest impact on you?
My mom is the person who has made the biggest impact. She has never given up on me and my goal of getting millions of books to kids. She has been my rock and has guided me along the way.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of the number of people who have been touched by Read Indeed. Certainly this is the nearly thousands and thousands of kids who have received books from Read Indeed, but also the people who I have inspired--both kids and adults--to do good.
Outside of philanthropy, what are some of your interests?
I love reading (of course!); bike riding, traveling, calligraphy, working out.
We know you're an avid reader. Any recommendations for Girls & Co?
We know you have a bright future ahead! What are your aspirations?
I would like to go into the sciences... possibly theoretical physics.