Black’s Mill Elementary School recently installed a new addition to its campus — a book vending machine meant to get books in the hands of local children and excite them about reading.
According to Black’s Mill Principal Cindy Kinney, she first saw the idea for a book vending machine posted online by another school out of the state and knew she wanted one for her school.
“I thought, how can I get that for Black’s Mill so I wrote the grant and we were blessed by the Dawson County Charter Mini-Grant committee and we won it,” Kinney said. “We are very excited, especially our boys and girls, although I think our teachers are just as excited as they are.”
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The book vending machine was recently delivered to the school, complete with a colorful wrapping on the outside with the school’s colors and bear mascot.
The grant received by Black’s Mill covers not only the purchase of the vending machine but also the books that will be stocked in the machine at all times. According to Kinney, with the help of the school’s media specialist she carefully selected books covering a range of reading levels and topics to fill the machine.
“I checked with our media specialist to see what are some of the more popular books that our media center had checked out the most, so I know that those are books that our students like so I tried to order those books to go into the vending machine,” Kinney said. “There’ll be some seasonal books, there’ll be some novels, so it’s just gonna be great for any type of reader no matter if they’re a beginning reader or advanced; they’ll be able to look into the vending machine and choose the book they want.”
But the vending machine won’t take money, instead books can be bought with gold coins that students will receive from teachers and administrators.
“They’re gonna be able to earn them for different things here at the school, so each teacher is gonna have some gold coins that they can give out and administration will as well,” Kinney said. “If they reach reading incentives they can get a gold coin, but then also sometimes they’re gonna get a gold coin for doing something kind for someone else, and that goes right along with our program for positive behavior and reinforcing that.”
The book vending machine project goes along with Black’s Mill’s push to get kids reading as much as possible, Kinney said.
“Literacy is a huge push here at Black’s Mill,” Kinney said. “We have it set up here in the front lobby so that this is the main traffic area for students in the morning time, when they’re leaving for buses and throughout the day as they travel to art and music and P.E., so it’s gonna be right at the center of the school and it’s gonna be a focal point letting people know that here at Black’s Mill we want put books in our students’ hands and we want our students reading.”
Black’s Mill has been reinforcing this goal for several years, including the most recent school year when administrators introduced “Mrs. Kinney’s Birthday Book Cart”, which gave kids a free book for their birthday, complete with a note from the principal. Kinney said that this project got students excited to read, and they expect students will be equally excited to use the new vending machine.
“I had to really reinforce with the kids ‘hey you don’t have to bring this book back; this is your book for you to keep at home,' and they were just so surprised by that,” Kinney said. “So the kids knew we were gonna write the grant for this and so they are very excited — I can’t wait for the kids to walk in at open house and be able to see it.”