When most people think of vending machines, they think of fizzy drinks and yummy treats. At Locust Fork Elementary they have a vending machine full of BOOKS!
The new reward program has been a huge hit since the ribbon cutting earlier this fall.School librarian Monica Moorer first learned about the machine on another Alabama school’s social media post. She began researching, which entailed calling a few schools across the nation who also had book vending machines. Moorer said she received a lot of really good feedback about the machines and various ways to use them to encourage reading. “It’s hard to compete with technology, so we hope this will excite students and encourage them to read more,” said Moorer.
The school has been fortunate to receive generous donations of books from the community. Moorer explained that she will accept donations of used books if they are in great condition. Moorer estimates they have awarded around 130 books since the unveiling in August. The vending machine can hold between 200 and 400 books, depending on the size. Moore refills the machine – sometimes daily – keeping it well stocked with an exciting variety of books.
In order to receive a vending machine token a student must either “level up” in their reading program, meet certain goals in math, or be picked for student of the week. The youngest Hornet students must learn their letters and letter sounds or their breakfast words (sight words). Once a student does one or more of those things, they can visit Moorer in the library to get their token. The token is then inserted into a coin slot on the machine, the student makes their selection, and the book drops down and is retrieved through a small door on the bottom of the machine.
Moorer believes the new addition has brought a lot of excitement to the student body and it encourages students to work hard and set goals. Some students have already been able to visit the machine twice. There are no limits to how many books a child can be rewarded. Moorer says it takes about three weeks for students to “level up” in the reading program, but some students are doing it sooner. She attributes the increased success to the new book machine. Not only does the new reward incentive encourage good behavior and learning, it is also creating a school full of stronger, more confident readers.