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Kearney elementary installs book vending machine
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Kearney elementary installs book vending machine

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Vending machine library

Xander Cook, 11, makes a selection from Bryant Elementary School’s book vending machine for his birthday. Cook is a fifth grader, who’s the son of Crystal and Bryon Sazama.

KEARNEY — From a distance, the blue vending machine looks like a typical snack or drink dispenser.

Yet, the image of a bulldog slumbering over a book on the side of the machine hints that there might be more to this particular device at Bryant Elementary. Instead of candy bars or soda pop, students can place a token in the machine and get a book.

Second-grade teacher Michelle Fouts came across the idea for a book vending machine on Instagram.

Vending machine library

“I follow lots of other teachers, and I thought, ‘That might be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I think we need one,’” Fouts said.

Fouts did some research on where the school could obtain one, and she was given approval to get it in April. The school purchased the machine from Global Vending Group, and educators were able to select its wrapping, which included quotes about reading and images of bulldogs, the school’s mascot.

For Fouts, it is just another way to help promote the love of reading.

“I think that is a really cool way, because it is right at the front of the school. Every kid walks by it every day, sometimes more than once. It’s just that love of reading and love of books and to get them excited,” she said.

In order to help students cultivate a love for reading, the staff members at Bryant have been working to build up each student’s home library.

“There is so much research out there that kids need to have books at home that are their own and how that can impact their love of reading and impact their reading scores,” Fouts said.

The school provides a book for students on their birthdays, and staff members host the Bryant Book Store at the end of the school year. Each student is able to pick four books that he or she can keep during the book store event.

Brandon Rohr with Brandon Built has paid for birthday books at Bryant, and he has donated money in order for the school to fill the vending machine with books.

Staff members have been asking the kids what their favorite books are and what they would like to take home to keep forever. They are also finding different ways for kids to earn a book from the machine. Along with their birthday book, students who earn the “top dog” honor for doing the right thing can get a book from the machine.

Fouts was giddy when the vending machine arrived at the school last month, saying it was the best day ever. She’s just as excited and eager to get books in the hands of students.

“That’s my passion. I just want kids to love books because there is so much power in them,” she said.

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