New vending machine fosters love of reading at Mary Todd Elementary
When students crowd around the new vending machine at Mary Todd Elementary, it’s not to choose a snack or a cold drink. They are stoked about picking out a new book! The machine, which sits just outside the library, is stocked with high-interest reads that youngsters love including the “Dog Man” series and “The Baby-Sitters Club.”
“Hopefully they’ll choose something they’re excited about, read it, and enjoy it,” said library media specialist Lindsey Patrick.
Patrick first saw a book vending machine on social media and pitched the idea to Principal Michael Jones. “We are investing in reading because we know the tremendous positive impact reading has on the academic outcome for our students. We are always trying to make our students better readers,” Jones said. “The vending machine will enable us to reward our students for their accomplishments and continue to instill in them a love of reading.”
The machine takes tokens, not coins, and students can earn them in various ways. For the kickoff, Patrick rewarded a group for meeting their MAP testing growth goals. She also gave tokens to classroom teachers, who handed them out to recognize students’ acts of kindness. Going forward, the tokens will be part of the school’s PBIS program, which features positive behavior rewards.
Lindsey was able to customize Mary Todd’s vending machine, with large slots for picture books and smaller slots for easy readers and slim graphic novels. She used proceeds from last year’s book fair to buy a bunch of popular titles, which the children can take home for keeps. In one strategy, she loads #1 in a book series into the machine to capture a student’s interest, and then encourages them to check out the others in the library.
“When students can take ownership of their reading and their learning, that’s really powerful,” Lindsey said. “I hope the excitement around getting to choose something that belongs to them helps them grow their love of reading.”