Unique Vending Machine Adds Muscle to Vale Elementary School Reading Program


The objective is to create incentives to promote reading among students and the vending machine, which distributes books, is seen as a key tool in achieving this objective. Students who earn enough points from the tests earn a free book from the machine.

Vale Primary School student Marli Bennett shows off a free book from a new type of vending machine in the school library. She won the book as part of a reading program. (The Company/PAT CALDWELL)

VALE – Students at Vale Elementary School received a unique vending machine earlier this spring.

Instead of candy, energy drinks, or soda, the new machine in Vale’s elementary school library dispenses books.

The machine is an incentive to promote reading among students.

Theresa Meiwald, principal of Vale Elementary School, said she came across the idea of ​​a book vending machine while participating in a national educators group on Facebook.

“One of the other directors, from the back east, posted it. The picture had a website, so I just pulled it and thought it looked like such a fantastic idea,” he said. said Meiwald.

The machine cost $4,000 and was paid for with funds from a student walk-a-thon held before the Covid pandemic. The first set of books — the machine holds more than 120 — was purchased with money donated to the library by the Lee McBride Memorial Fund, Meiwald said.

“We put it in the library during the Christmas holidays. The first books came out of it on February 20,” Meiwald said.

The books are free. To get one, students earn points through tests and reading books, Meiwald said.

“So, like in kindergarten, they earn 10 points for a free book. They get a token and put it in the machine and get a free book,” Meiwald said.

The vending machine is popular, said Jody Sappe, the elementary school librarian.

“I have never seen them so motivated. It was awesome,” Sappe said.

Miewald said more students are reading now.

“I’m curious to see if it continues. My ultimate goal is to be able to have a bank of books to continue our incentive program where we give away 20-30 books a week,” Meiwald said.

“Our goal is to build a culture of readers in our building. The more you read, the better you get at it,” Meiwald said.

She hopes next fall to distribute a token for a free birthday book for each student.

Meiwald said if area residents want to help support the reading incentive program, they can use an Amazon wishlist set up by the school.

The wishlist includes student favourites, teacher book picks, and classics. Books purchased for the vending machine are shipped to the school.

Interested persons can also simply donate money for books by contacting Sappe at [email protected]

Topical advice? Contact journalist Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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