Book vending machine comes to Martin Elementary

MARTIN, Tenn. — When you think of a vending machine, what comes to mind? Candy, or a bag of chips?

At Martin Elementary, instead of feeding students’ stomachs, this machine is feeding their minds.

The school received a grant from the Charger Foundation to purchase the machine, thanks to librarian Charleigh Stephens who pitched the idea.

“They asked us to think big. Just asked for whatever our hearts would desire. I had read somewhere about a book vending machine, and I thought that seemed like a really neat idea and so I pitched the idea out there and they were gracious enough to buy the machine for us,” Stephens said.

The Charger Foundation is a nonprofit aimed at helping the schools in areas of education, STEM, and art.

Every year they give teachers the option to receive a grant for anything they feel would add to educating students.

“It was a no brainer for us because we thought, ‘Wow. We’ve never seen anyone have one of those and what a cool experience for kids to be able to get a book out of a vending machine,'” said Elizabeth Pritchett, Chairman for the Charger Foundation.

Looking at the vending machine, you may notice there aren’t any prices listed. That’s because this vending machine is not like any other.

It doesn’t take cash. It takes a coin that students have to earn from good behavior.

“Reading and taking quizzes on the books that they read. For every 25 points that they earn, they get to get a book out of the book vending machine. We also have something that we call ‘Token Tuesdays.’ When students have good behavior, they get a Charger ticket. The teachers will choose a student from those Charger tickets to come and get a book,” Stephens said.

Pritchett says she knew it was important to get the book vending machine instead of your average snack vending machine.

“Books can help them travel to places where they’ve never been before. Books can provide them comfort when they’re hurting. Books can make them feel joy, sadness,” Stephens said. “Teach them vocabulary and help them with their reading fluency, and it can help in all academic areas.”

The Charger Foundation will be revisiting schools on Friday to discuss grants for next year.

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