Book Vending Machines Arrive in East Lansing Schools

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Book vending machines are making their way to East Lansing schools, thanks to a new program by the Kiwanis Club of East Lansing.

The Book Vending Machine Project was kicked off with the installation of the first book vending machine at Donley Elementary School on March 5, with the unveiling taking place a day later. 

Students can be awarded tokens throughout the school year for things like good behavior or birthdays to get a book from the vending machine. These books are for the students to keep, in the hopes that they will begin to grow their own personal home libraries. 

“We began to realize that, you know, kids today are really more into their laptops and their phones and their computers,” Diane Tubbs, Kiwanis Club of East Lansing Vice President, said. “We figured with the book vending machine… it would affect every student that would get a book in the school, not just one group of students. Because literacy in Michigan is kind of in a turmoil.”

Many schools throughout the United States have turned to book vending machines as a fun and engaging way to increase literacy among students. Tubbs spoke to several schools who have implemented these programs during the development of East Lansing’s very own program.

“All the schools I’ve spoken to, every one of them said they would never give it up,” Tubbs said. “It’s like the best thing that ever happened.”

The machines cost approximately $7,000 each, in addition to the cost of books, which is approximately $2,500 to fill a machine, according to Tubbs. The Kiwanis Club and East Lansing schools will be utilizing various fundraising methods as the program progresses. 

The schools and the Kiwanis Club are enthusiastic about the installation of book vending machines, despite the costs. Board of Education Secretary Tali Fairs-Hylen is excited for the opportunity to make books more accessible and interesting to students. 

“I hope it piques the interest of students that maybe would look over a book on a library bookshelf, even though we have wonderful libraries,” Faris-Hylen said. “The novelty of a book vending machine is really cool, and our younger kids will think it’s a pretty neat way to get a book.”

The Kiwanis Club plans to install six book vending machines throughout East Lansing elementary and middle schools to foster positive relationships with reading.
“The presence of book vending machines also sends a strong message that reading is valued and celebrated within the school community,” according to the Kiwanis Club website. “They serve as visual reminders of the importance of literacy and encourage students to prioritize reading as a regular habit.”

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