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Single Gold Coin Leads to Hours of Reading Adventures

Meredith Nicholson School 96 Principal LaShonda Huff unveils a new book vending machine to students.

With the simple drop of a gold coin, students at Meredith Nicholson School 96 are selecting new books that will open doors to exciting stories and greater knowledge.

The newly installed book vending machine, which students, teachers, and administrators celebrated with a grand opening on Feb. 2, is the centerpiece of the school’s media center.

“The students simply love the machine,” said Colleen Turner, an ENL teacher at the school. “Students are so eager to use their gold coins, which they earn through various incentives, such as reaching attendance and academic goals. We see their eyes light up as they come in here to looks over the options, which ranges from picture to chapter books. And the options are broken down by grade level.”

The machine is one of several in the district. It holds 200 to 300 books and has space for 20 different titles. Like any other vending machine, the token goes in, and a spiraled dispenser drops a book.

Access to the machine is one of the ways to reinforce the value of reading, said Principal LaShonda Huff.

“We didn’t want there to be monetary barriers to stop students from getting books to read,” Huff said. “So, we reward coins based on positive behavior. Even then, some students may struggle to meet those goals. So, we offer our students access on birthdays and other events. It’s been a big success so far.”

Turner said students are encouraged to take the books home to read.

“It is our hope that what starts here in the early grades will be something that continues throughout their lifetimes,” she said. “It’s only going to help them down the road.

“The goal long term is for students to graduate from high school and make a great choice about their futures, said Turner. We know this is only going to help them keep going through the school system.”