Buffalo BookBike delivering reading fun to city children
A grassroots literacy program was launched by a woman who wanted to make sure books are getting in the hands of city children. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Buffalo BookBike will be traveling into neighborhoods across Buffalo.
“It’s sort of like a little free library on wheels. It goes around to different parks and playgrounds over the summer,” said Amy Ozay, founder of Buffalo BookBike.
Ozay relocated to Buffalo from Cambridge, Massachusetts a couple of years ago. When Ozay began to explore the city she noticed some 'disconnection' between neighborhoods. Her friend in Cambridge started a BookBike, so Ozay decided to create one for Buffalo.
“That bike was fresh in my mind, so I just thought that would be so great for Buffalo, and then the founder of Gobike Buffalo, his daughter happen to be in class with my son – it was all sort of serendipitous, so I met with him and told him the idea as something they should do. I never intended the person to do it, but he said go for it, you can be an affiliate, just go for it, just start it,” recalled Ozay.
Last year Ozay conducted a trial run without a bike, distributing over 1,000 books across the city. But now this season she had a custom designed bike.
“Connected me with Nickle City Cycles, built custom bicycles out of the foundry on the east side, so it was important the bike be from Buffalo. We designed it together and they built it from scratch. They welded it from racing bikes steel, so it’s really light,” Ozay explained.
The first Buffalo BookBike appearance will begin June 28th at MLK Playground. Ozay reads to children, then hands out free books.
“And I have to keep telling them over and over – ‘yes it is free’. They just can’t believe that they can take it home. There’s something about owning your own books. The pride of ownership and reading the same one over and over and over again, writing your name in the front cover. It’s really magical and a healthy means of escape, a healthy means of escape for a lot of these kids,” Ozay remarked. “And the parents now are asking me to keep adult books in there too.”
Ozay will also travel to other parts of the city, including west side, Outer Harbor, Riverside and north buffalo from June through August.
“Reading is one of my favorite things to do and it’s fun and relaxing. And I think now a days kids are being pressured to read earlier and earlier, so I wanted to bring some of that fun back to it. The bike is sort of a spectacle that rolls into your neighborhood and you should get just as excited to see it as the ice cream truck,” Ozay declared.