New book vending machine at Pasco elementary school aims to promote reading

PASCO, Wash. — A new book vending machine installed at Maya Angelou Elementary in Pasco is inspiring hundreds of children to foster a love and passion for reading.

Students who exemplify “cooperation, attitude, respect, effort and safety throughout their
school day” will receive a gold token that they can use in the machine.

PTO President Kate Pentecost said she got the idea after seeing another school in a different state create one for their students. But because of the cost, she decided to reach out to the HAPO Community Credit Union for a sponsorship.

“HAPO was thrilled to come on as a sponsor of the book vending machine. It was within four months, I
opened my email one day,” said Crystal Contreras with HAPO. “It was in, and Kate
had sent me a photo of the beautiful book vending machine. I was in shock. I was just so excited to be
able to give students a way to earn a tangible item for their good behavior, all while helping to educate
them at the same time.”

On Monday, the vending machine was set up and since then it’s become a coveted part of the school.

“We have had probably 40 or 50 students over the last couple of days come and pick out books and they’ve been really excited,” Pentecost said.

For Pentecost, encouraging children to read is “really important.”

“You can travel the world just by reading a book and I think over the last two years, the kids lost out on that a lot,” Pentecost said. “Now it’s bringing them back and making them excited again about reading and books.”

Pentecost added that staff had to allocate time frames for students to exchange their tokens as the machine’s popularity quickly grew.

“I’ve seen older siblings pick out books to bring home for their younger siblings,” Pentecost said. “Kids even work together because it’s a vending machine so you can only get one at a time and then they swap books.”

All books are donated by the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia and include ones written in both English and Spanish.

If you want to get involved and donate, Pentecost said the best way is to drop books off at the school’s front desk with a note saying they are specifically for the vending machine.

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