Put in a token, get a book!

West Elementary adds book vending machine

Students and faculty at West Elementary School test out the new book vending machine on campus. (Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – West Elementary School is making it more fun than ever for students to get their hands on a good book, with the recent addition of Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine — a literal vending machine that allows students to pop in a special token and walk away with a brand new book to take home. 
Sixth-grade reading teacher Kristy White said the vending machine has incentivized reading and gotten students excited about cracking open a book, with students earning a “magic token” for the machine by showcasing outstanding character, personal achievements like test scores or exceptional performance in physical education. 
“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. Recent research has shown that children not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to leave high school without a diploma,” White explained. “Our vision and dream are to direct all students toward literacy.  We felt this would be a fun and creative way to do that, all while encouraging positive growth for the whole child.” 
The school was able to purchase the book vending machine thanks to generous community support from the West Elementary School community. The machine remains stocked with new books thanks to grants awarded through the Operation Round-Up program offered by the Cullman Electric Cooperative and Cullman Power Board. 

“It really is a full-circle project made possible by the incredible citizens of Cullman that are dedicated to increasing literacy in Cullman,” White added. “This has been a great addition to our school. I love hearing the conversations about the books in the machine and I have students that make suggestions about books to put in it.  We are very proud that we could provide this for our students.” 
Second-grade teacher Mary Beth Cleveland said her students can’t wait to earn a token for the machine. “My kids think the book vending machine looks so cool. The first student from my class to use the machine was so excited to go first and see how it works.” 
Sixth grader Lucy Williamson was the first student to try out the vending machine, noting she’s already seeing it create excitement and interest among her fellow students. “I liked seeing the book drop to the bottom of the vending machine as if it were a bottle of soda,” she said.