Alvin ISD adds book vending machine to elementary school, making reading more “rewarding” for students

The machine is called Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine and was placed in the school last month. The machine holds around 275 books.


Students at Nelson Elementary in Alvin ISD stand in front of a book vending machine. The machine is used as a reward system and doesn’t take money, rather special tokens given to the students.

An elementary school in Alvin ISD has received a new machine that dispenses books instead of snacks.

Nelson Elementary is one of the first schools in Alvin ISD to receive one of these machines and has proven to be a success with parents and students said Librarian Kate Hebert.

"We've actually had lots of parents who are coming back from having lunch with their students, who ask about the vending machine and how they can earn tokens,” Hebert said.

The machine is called Inchy's Bookworm Vending Machine and was placed in the school last month. The machine holds around 275 books. It was funded by a $1,000 grant from the district's educational fund.

It also holds a wide range of reading materials, so students on all levels are included said Assistant Principal Amanda Garcia.

"We have variety of genres and levels, so we have picture books for kindergarten students, and then we have all the way to chapter books like Percy Jackson books for our upper level elementary students, both fiction and non-fiction," Garcia said.

The machine does not take money like a traditional vending machine, but takes special coins that only work for the machine.

"It's a little bookworm token, so the machine doesn't take money, it runs on the token," Hebert said. "They just put the token in, and they pick their book."

The idea behind the grant was to promote good behavior and make reading fun.

"The idea, when I wrote the grant was to catch those students who are always doing the right thing and encourage and reward them, with books that they can take home," Hebert said.

The machine is used everyday, and to make it fun, during morning announcements on the intercom they give students a quick shoutout before claiming their book.

"Ever since we got it, we announce a positive office referral on our announcements in the morning, and the students come down and get a token, they give the office referral to the librarian who gives them the token and gets the book with them," Hebert said.

Even with the $1,000 grant it still costs about $5000 for one machine, but was carefully budgeted over the years by Hebert.

On top of the machine fees come the book fees as the school paid close to $500 for all books from Scholastic Book Clubs.

Despite the price, Hebert believes that this is the start of something new and is now seeing other schools and districts follow suit.

"I have actually had a couple of librarians and literacy coaches reach out and ask about the process and getting one for their campus," Hebert said.

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