Each installment of The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with two high schoolers who run a youth-literacy organization. After Sabine Wood read a newspaper article about Andrea Liao’s Book the Future project, which arranges book drives for local organizations in need, she reached out and found not only a new cause, but also a new best friend. In this interview, they discuss what reading brings to their lives and how the motivations for volunteering as a young person can become mixed with the desire to stand out on college applications.
Andrea Liao, 17, a junior at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington, and the founder of Book the Future
Sabine Wood, 15, a sophomore at Interlake High School who helps run Book the Future
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: Andrea, you started Book the Future before you met Sabine. Tell me the origin story.
Andrea Liao: I've always loved to read. I grew up going to the library several times a week. But I came to realize that not all kids had the same access that I did, and as a result, a lot of kids didn't really understand the power of reading. So I founded Book the Future in my freshman year to increase accessibility to books and to support local families in the area.
I reached out to several local organizations who I thought might be in need of books, such as the Seattle Children's Hospital, schools for kids with special needs, and refugee shelters. Luckily, they were really excited to get books.