Reading well opens up worlds of knowledge and one Alabama school got extra creative in encouraging students to read more and to help improve the school district’s literacy rate.
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West Elementary School has added a way for students to not only get excited about reading but an opportunity for them to build their own personal library. How did they achieve this awesome goal? They added an Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine – an actual vending machine that allows students to add a token and get a brand new book.
Sixth-grade reading teacher Kristy White said students have been inspired to earn tokens so they can get a new book. Every classroom has tokens, and students can earn them by improving in their reading or math skills or exhibiting good behavior. It has definitely been a game-changer for the school.
“The idea came together as a way to help the number of children in our school who do not own a book or have them available at home,” Kristy said.
That way, there wouldn’t be any barrier to students developing excellent reading skills.
“Our vision and dream are to direct all students toward literacy,” she explained. “We felt this would be a fun and creative way to do that, all while encouraging positive growth for the whole child.”
Funding for the vending machine came from community support through donations and grants.
As students are eager to use the machine, one child asked how many tokens it takes to use it. Kristy said it only takes one. Nice! What’s even nicer is there are books for all grade levels and students even make suggestions for titles they’d like to see available.
Lucy Williamson was the first student to use the machine. The sixth-grader said she can already see the growing excitement of her peers to make their selection.
“I liked seeing the book drop to the bottom of the vending machine as if it were a bottle of soda,” Lucy said.
Fifth-grader Lorelai Johnston has gotten one book so far and looks forward to getting even more books. She likes the variety of titles the vending machine offers and the fact that she gets to keep the book for herself.
“This has some different books that the library doesn’t have and I’m able to keep the book longer because it’s mine so I have more time to read it,” Lorelai said.
And there’s nothing like rereading a good book you really like, either! Lucy shared that she rereads books often, so being able to select a book that she can take home is a real plus.
Beyond reading, the addition of the vending machine has also encouraged students to behave better. And when a student gets a token everyone celebrates the win.
“The students are thrilled when they’re the student who gets the token that week or one of the students, they come down here and the students cheer for them,” Kristy said.
We’re cheering for them, too! This is such a positive and unique way to motivate students. Reading is so fundamental that it really serves as the foundation for all other learning. This vending machine is just one way to help students succeed.
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