School Installs Vending Machine That Dispenses Free Books to Kids Who Read

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“The classic vending machine is getting an upgrade, and not with one with soda pop or candy bars. A school in Buffalo, New York recently unveiled a unique surprise for their students. They repurposed a vending machine and gave it a more useful function.

Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction #61 held a special ribbon cutting ceremony for the new vending machine back in late November. Instead of sweets and snacks, the school decided to fill the vending machine with books. Sharon Belton-Cottman, a Buffalo School Board member, is hoping this brilliant idea will encourage both parents and students to focus more on reading.

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The Community Action Organization bought the $2,000 vending machine for the school and even contributed and extra $1,000 to help fill it with books. A non-profit school supply store, Teacher’s Desk, offered to keep the “vending machine” restocked with fresh books.

The vending machine is open to all students from Pre-K to fourth grade. In an interview, Principal Parette Walker said, “We’re not basing it on behavior. We’re not basing it on attendance, so that everyone will have a chance to receive a book. There will be a monthly rotation of all students.” One of her major focuses is literacy. She continued, “One of the biggest issues we have in this district is literacy. If our children can read, they can survive.”

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In order to get a book out of the vending machine, students are given special golden coins that are only good for use in the machine. The excitement of putting special money into the vending machine and picking out a book has really given the students at Arthur O. Eve School a renewed love for reading.

A local news crew was present at the ribbons cutting ceremony for the new vending machine. This clip shows a student eagerly using the new machine. After she selects the perfect book, she grabs the book out of the slot and holds it above her head in triumph.

Other schools, as well as libraries, are starting to adopt these “vending machines” to promote literacy in their own neighborhoods. Authors are also wanting to get involved with this project, offering to donate copies of their works to these very special machines. Learning to read is one of the most important building blocks every individual needs.

Frederick Douglass, famous abolitionist and intellectual from the 1800s, said, “Once you learn to read, you will forever be free.””

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