Buffalo BookBike promotes reading, gives free books to kids

Buffalo bookbike aims to make reading fun

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- One woman has started her own effort to make sure more kids get their hands on books this summer.

With help from local business Nickel City Cycles, she plans to hit the streets of Buffalo by bike and hand out free books along the way.

Amy Ozay, who started the movement in the Queen City, moved to Buffalo from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where people gave out free books on bikes.

Then she came to learn her new home has its own host of literacy problems.

So, Amy started her own program called Buffalo BookBike.

"It's basically a little free library on wheels that goes around to the parks and playgrounds over the summer giving out free books to kids,” Ozay explained.

Amy plans on hitting the streets all summer and stopping at Buffalo’s free lunch sites, where she says there are guaranteed to be kids.

"As soon as school lets out, I'll be out there,” she said.

Ozay said she feels books purchased new are often too expensive for a low-income family, with some books costing around $20.

Ozay explained she wants reading to be fun and not something stressful as a result of academics or cost.

The cargo space is a custom designed wooden chest that sits on top of steel bars from the bicycle’s frame. It opens up with shelves and compartments that kids can pick from.

"There's a great public library system, but if you can't get there or you don't have parents who have time to bring you there, then you're stuck,” Ozay said.

The bike itself is one-of-a-kind designed by Nickel City Cycles.

Patrick Meszler learned what Amy was looking for and thought building a cargo bike from scratch would be a fun challenge.

"We had to design a steering system that allows the front wheel to be completely independent from the handlebars that you steer it with,” said Meszler.

Patrick describes the feeling of riding it as a big, heavy bicycle.

"You've got plenty of low gears to get up and down hills. You can't really stand up on it like you can a normal bicycle, but it goes down the road really quickly once it's moving. It's got a lot of momentum,” he said.

Amy says having an actual book bike will make her literacy effort easier. She actually started giving out free books last summer.

"Last year I did it without an official bike. Just me and my kids on our regular bikes, or sometimes in my car,” she said. “And it went pretty well; we gave out over a thousand books.”

Even though the big wooden chest she'll be riding around with might garner some funny looks, Amy says it's totally worth it.

"I'm fine being that crazy lady if it gets kids reading,” she said.

Interested in donating?

  • Amy says there is a donation box at Talking Leaves for anyone interested in bringing books they no longer want. You can also donate monetarily through her online fundraiser by clicking here.


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