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SW: Feature Report Channel
Reported August 3, 2011

Read Indeed

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) --There are 774 million people around the world who are illiterate. Two thirds of them are women.  In the United States alone, 30 million people over the age of 16 don’t read well enough to fill out a job application. In fact, 20 percent of high school seniors today can be classified as functionally illiterate.  Being able to read impacts every aspect of your life. One young woman is doing her best to get the word out and help kids across the world learn to read.

Maria Keller has read hundreds of books.

“She’s had this passion for books ever since she was born. I mean it’s been phenomenal,” Maura Keller, Maria’s mom told Ivanhoe.

So when Maria’s mom told her some kids don’t have any books at home to read Maria did something about it.
 
“I just didn’t think that was right, so I decided to create Read Indeed.” Maria Keller told Ivanhoe.

It started with one book drive. Maria decided to donate 1,000 books to kids in need. Then she wanted to do it again.
 
“But she said, this time, I want to do a million books,” Maura said.

That’s right, a million books by her 18th birthday! And she’s well on her way. In two years and at just 11-years-old, Maria’s turned Read Indeed into a non-profit organization and donated more than 461,000 books to kids all over the globe.

“When I set that goal for when I was 18, I never thought I would be able to get halfway there in two years,” Maria said.

Some books go to hospitals to help kids take their minds off why they’re there. Most go to organizations to help at-risk kids.
 
“I know when we give them to the kids that they’re usually like amazed that they get to keep the books,” Liz Heyer, LDA Minnesota said.

In low-income neighborhoods in the U.S, there’s just one book for every 300 children. Sixty-one percent of those families have no books at all-- a fact that keeps Maria’s efforts going strong.

 “It’s two years into it. She’s touched half a million books nearly and she keeps going,” Maura said.
 
“I just like seeing their faces because they’re just so thankful and happy,” Maria concluded.

Happiness Maria knows only a good book can bring.

Research shows how critical books and reading are for a child’s success. One study shows children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading as children who are read to less than three times a week. To donate books to read indeed, log onto www.readindeed.org.

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