Friday, March 18, 2016

Bikers for Books: Rev Up for Reading

As soon as I learned about Bikers for Books, I knew I wanted to interview them for our SCBWI-MI blog. Badge Velasquez and his wife Kendra took time from their very busy schedules (they both work full-time jobs in addition to running Bikers For Books) to answer my questions. Read on to learn more about this grassroots Michigan organization that's making a huge impact.

How did Bikers for Books get started, and how has it grown since then?
Bikers for Books started in 2013 as a result of a local school reaching out for what seemed to be a small and simple request. The “biker” community in general is a very generous group of people. The pairing of 2 things, a love for motorcycles and a passion for literacy prompted the formation of the Bikers for Books program. Bikers in this area were thirsty for a local homegrown charity to call their own.

In the past 3 years we have been to over 35 different schools and seen over 15,000 kids. In the beginning it was not easy; schools were apprehensive about our presence and what we had to say to the kids. However, within the first few months of existence the doors were opened at many schools requesting our program.

What's next? What are your goals going forward? What do you hope to accomplish?
The possibilities for “what’s next” is a wide open and open-ended question. We are so passionate and dedicated to our program. Ideas and goals fill the spaces in our minds constantly. We are being guest speakers for the first time at the Michigan Reading Association, we have purchased a mobile book delivery unit, we have obtained small free-standing libraries, and we’ve partnered with local authors to send them to schools to help motivate kids.

Looking in the future we would love to have an actual location where people and kids can gather for free tutoring or the use of free resources. We also see ourselves hopefully spreading the word nationally, starting other chapters across the country.

What achievements are you most proud of?
One of our greatest accomplishments lies in our followers, supporters, and our Bikers for Books family. Our organization is proof that a group of people with a shared passion and goal can accomplish great things and make a difference in our community. The backbone of our group consists of common everyday people working together to help spread the word of hope to our youth.

What has been challenging or surprising about your experience so far?
Honestly, the growth and success of the organization in such a short time had been amazing.  But, early on it proved a little challenging getting people to take us seriously and get them to believe in our cause.

Throughout the last 3 years we have been surprised at the condition of some of the schools, their libraries, and their lack of adequate reading materials. It has been a real eye-opener at how little money is actually needed to make an impact.

What can others do to help your organization?
It is so easy to help… GET INVOLVED any way you can. Please like us on Facebook, share what we do with others, join us at an event, and lastly make contributions whenever you can. You don’t have to be a biker to be a part of our group, you need to have a passion for reading and the desire to make an impact in our schools.

Look for Badge Velasquez at MRA this weekend!
Learn more about Bikers for Books at their website, follow them on Facebook, and meet them at the Michigan Reading Association annual conference in Detroit this weekend!

Coming up on the Mitten blog:

Hugs and Hurrahs! Only a few more days to send your good news to Patti Richards. Email her at by Sunday, March 20th.

On April 1st, Nina Goebel will reveal our new blog banner created by our new Featured Illustrator!

Have a great weekend,


  1. I hadn't heard of this organization, but it sounds like they are doing really good work in promoting books. Glad they are growing so much. Sad that they see libraries in such need of books.

  2. What a great program! So many kids must benefit from this. Thank you and keep it up:)

  3. Just wonderful--so glad to learn about this group! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great interview. I'm presenting at MRA today and tomorrow, too, so will look them up to donate my novel, NOLA Gals to them. Thanks, Kristen!

  5. I'm so excited to hear about Bikers for Books! What tremendous efforts to reach kids in underserved areas! Thank you!