Back in 2022, the Bastrop ISD invested in book vending machines to get students excited about reading. And guess what? It worked! The book vending machine aligns with PBIS initiatives in the school district. Ever since the big unveiling, vending a free book is used as a reward for all students who receive positive office referrals. Bluebonnet Elementary School Librarian Pattie Nix says positive office referrals have tripled.
Bringing Back the Magic of Reading
“My biggest goal is to bring back the magic of reading for each of my students, “she says. “I think that this helps instill to our students that we at Bluebonnet believe that reading is important and that it’s fun and that it’s magical. “says Fourth-grade teacher Sarah Diaz-Eason.
Diaz-Eason goes on to explain that enthusiasm for the book vending machine is catching. Students will cheer each other on when a teacher rewards them. Seeing the reward and recognition is a real self-esteem booster in students. And what comes next is even better.
Empowering Students with A Choice
Fourth-grade teacher, Courtney Grafton, has another take on why this program is so effective and enjoyable for kids. She says it’s all about the choice.
“It’s more of an enjoyable thing. ‘I picked this book. I get to read it all by myself. Nobody’s making me do it and I get to do it just for my enjoyment,’” she says.” So, I think that element makes it cool.”
Unlike assigned reading, which may feel like an obligation, reading for pleasure provides a sense of independence. This enables young readers to choose books based on their preferences, fostering a genuine enjoyment and connection with the material. The elements of choice and personal connection make reading for fun a truly enriching and fulfilling activity.
Eager Readers and Physical Books
Isleen Ortiz, another fourth-grade teacher, echoes Grafton’s sentiment regarding students’ enthusiasm in selecting books independently, whether it be at the vending machine or the school library.
“When they have the option to choose something, they’re really into it,” Ortiz states. “They always ask me, ‘Can I read this right now? I just got it.’ They’re just eager to jump into it.”
Ortiz also expresses her appreciation for the vending machine’s role in putting physical books directly into the hands of children.
“I love that the kids are getting back into reading,” she says. “I know with electronics and everything it’s kind of a battle.”
Spreading Success Across Bastrop ISD and Beyond
Librarian Pattie Nix said, “We aim to demonstrate that reading is a positive endeavor,” she remarks. “It’s not a punishment. It’s not a homework assignment. This is an enjoyable thing.”
Nix notes that several other campuses within Bastrop ISD have acquired or are in the process of acquiring vending machines, inspired by the success observed at Bluebonnet.
“They’re beginning to proliferate throughout the district, particularly in our elementary schools,”