Kellie Keyser, Mary Craig, and Rebecca Flowers are lifelong readers. Determined to share their love of reading with children, they became school. libraries in Charlottesville, Virginia - a small city nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains southwest of Washington D.C. The women - all working at different schools in the city and surrounding district - began to notice a decline in students' reading skills as they returned to school in September. The solution was to get books into their students' homes over the summer months. But just how they did that entailed some fun, some determination, and strong leg muscles to carry them up hilly Charlottesville roads.
In 2014, the three launched a Kickstarter to collect $5,000 for the specialized bikes. A. local woodworker created custom fit boxes - out of lightweight materials - to attach to the bike and to allow each rider to transport about 50 books. The program relies entirely on donations - both monetary and gently used books. There is no expectation that children return the books; many books are sourced from First Book and a local book fair with reduced pricing.
Several times a summer, these devoted women load up cargo bikes with books, and pedal into local communities - mostly public housing neighborhoods. To generate excitement for the book brigade, teachers use horns and bells to announce their arrival. They carry books for all ages - board books all the way to adult books - so that entire families receive reading materials. Each trip, they give out over 100 books. On hot summer days, they also give out popsicles and linger to chat with students old and new.
We want to make sure they can have their own books and create their own libraries in their homes and so we bring the books to them. Kids see our familiar faces, and they end up with books and popsicles and we have a fun time hanging out with them in the hot summer evening"- Books on Bikes Bus founder Mary Craig