January 25, 2022 -- Move over candy and soda! New vending machine items have all the students abuzz at Gables Elementary School. It’s not sugary snacks or drinks to fill their bellies, but something to fill their minds with knowledge, creativity, and wonder - BOOKS!
Principal Jill Lausch, Gables Elementary, said that she and Principal Denyse Woods, Huy Elementary, purchased the vending machines early this school year to add to their Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support programs.
“I was first introduced to the concept on a principal webpage,” said Lausch. “Denyse and I are great friends and share a lot of ideas with one another. We both agreed that the vending machines would be great additions to our schools.”
Each week, students enter a drawing if they meet their weekly i-Ready reading and math minutes. Weekly winners are announced for each class, and those winners receive gold tokens to retrieve a book of their choice from the vending machine. In addition, students enter a drawing for perfect attendance, and one winner is announced per grade. Principal Lausch said she has approximately 25 winners per week.
“This has been such a great tool to help get books into the hands of students, get them excited about reading, and improve reading proficiency,” Lausch said.
Research shows that access to printed material is a critical variable affecting reading acquisition. The most successful way to improve children’s reading achievement is to increase their access to books. In fact, it is the only behavior measure found to correlate with reading scores significantly.
What’s troubling is 61% of low-income households have no books available for their children. In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books to children is 13 books to one child, but in low-income communities, the ratio is one book for every 300 children.
Columbus City Schools (CCS) is fielding this alarming statistic to improve reading achievement. One of the Board of Education’s goals is to strengthen reading proficiency. CCS is working on a strategy to empower families through literacy by providing books to build home libraries for ALL students. Every student, K-12, will soon receive an age-appropriate book each month for five months to add to their personal collection.
Book vending machines provide one more avenue to get books into the hands of students, get them excited about reading, and bridge the gap between literacy and engagement.
“My goal is that every student in the building will have the opportunity to win a token and choose a book by the end of the school year,” Lausch said. “This has been such a great addition to our school, and the joy and excitement it has brought to our students says it all.”