Of all the different items available through a vending machine, a book isn’t usually a very common item…especially in school.

But that is exactly what Grove Upper Elementary has installed in a hallway…and it is a big hit.

A very large rectangular item, wrapped in black with a yellow ribbon, sat in the school hallway and it piqued the student’s curiosity…what is this thing?

On January 8, Grove educator Miranda Ward unveiled it and it was a book vending machine, to cheers from the students gathered there as she unwrapped it.

Each student was given a special token by Superintendent Pat Dotson , to deposit in the vending machine, then punched in the code for the book they wanted.

From the student’s excitement, one would have thought it was a candy bar or bag of chips that dropped down, but it was book that was theirs to keep.

Some picked out a favorite book they had already read, but wanted foe their own, others chose a new book.

To acquire the vending machine, Ward had made a grant request to the Grove Education Foundation for Excellence (GEFFE) to purchase the vending machine and purchase the first fill-up of books.

GEFFE, though receiving more requests than they can fill, believed this request to be unique and a great tool to get kids to read more.

Future grant requests will be made (separate from library grant requests) to continue to add new books, that are content appropriate for the 4th, 5th and 6th grades.

Dotson, was part of the crowd present for the unveiling and said “We are blessed to have a foundation like GETTE to help and support our schools in Grove.”

He went on to say “I like any incentive to get kids to read whether it is books, comics or whatever, as long as they read.”

KayLyn Beauchamp, from GETTE, shared the excitement the foundation has in “being able to provide grants to Grove schools.”

The foundation began in 1997 and made their first grant in 1998 and was able to give out $110 thousand in 2019 and has given out $1.3 million since its inception.

The foundation raises its funds at an annual gala, making the grants possible.

The purpose of the vending machine is to make books easily available to the students, encouraging them to read and to own books.

Each Grove Upper Elementary teacher will be provided with the special tokens to be given out to their students who earn them through positive behavior, completing reading challenges or whatever the teacher wants to reward.

With the token, the rewarded student is able to “purchase” a book of their choice from the machine, which becomes theirs to keep.

On the side of the vending machine is a quote from J.K. Rowland (author of the Harry Potter series) which sums up book reading “I do believe something magical can happen when you read a book.”

And J.K. Rowling knows a little bit about “magical.”