Alabama school offers books for good behavior with new book vending machine

Published 3:34 pm Monday, October 7, 2019

Local children are learning to love reading again – thanks in part to a vending machine.

Yarbrough Elementary School in Auburn, for fourth and fifth graders, is rewarding good behavior with tokens to visit a vending machine for books.

The machine was bought over the summer from Global Vending Group and is designed specifically for Yarbrough, with a Knight emblem to represent the mascot on the side of the machine.

Students can earn tokens for a book by following the school’s positivity program, which was recently enacted or by becoming ‘Leader of the Month.’

Yarbrough is the only school in the Auburn City School system that has one of these machines.

“I think this is just something that Yarbrough had been looking at and implemented over the summer to stand out and be unique and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see the idea spread to other schools,” said spokesman Daniel Chesser.

The parent/teacher organization provides the books that go into the machine, Chesser said. The machine holds 200 books at a time, with 20 options.

“It’s a positive incentive for kids to read because we still have our libraries at all campuses, kids can check out books from the library, but this gives them an opportunity to participate in something that’s new and unique and once they are able to use the machine by earning those coins, they get to keep those books,” he said.

Part of the goal is to keep kids excited about reading, not because they have to, but because they want to, Chesser said.

“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to encourage our students to read, whether that is Auburn Reads Nights at the mall, book clubs, the Book-It-For-Books 5k that we held just… (Sept. 21), or something like this vending machine,” Chesser said.

After Auburn City Schools made a Facebook post about the machine, not only were parents and educators interested, but The Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools highlighted the vending machine in its newsletter.

Principal Pete Forster said that since the machine is new, educators can’t guarantee it is raising reading levels, but that Yarbrough overall is working toward that goal.

In 2016-2017 Yarbrough received 96% on the Alabama State Report Card and 98% for 2017-2018.

“For me, I want kids to see the machine lit up with enticing covers, peak inside and talk about the books with their friends,” Forster said. “While the selection of the book is fun, the conversation about the books encourages kids to find that special book in the classroom or media center and read it.

“As long as books are getting into the hands of our students, we are making a difference.”