PARMA, Ohio — A Parma area elementary school is working to re-engage students and make reading fun through a new book vending machine initiative that rewards children for excellent behavior in and out of the classroom.
School officials say after a few short weeks in operation, it's already making a difference.
“I like when I can relax and read," said Logan Sorozak, a fourth grader at Pleasant Valley Elementary.
Walking the halls at Pleasant Valley Elementary in Parma, it doesn't take much to please fourth-grade student Logan Sorozak.
All he needs and wants is a good book.
"I would pick Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye," he said.
Logan's had his eyes set — bright and wide — on the new book vending machine located in the center of the school.
In fact, Dean of Students Allison Kokely says Logan and his classmates cannot keep their hands off it.
“The glass was clean this morning, but it was not prior to that because there have been lots of hands on there looking to see what we have and lots of excitement over the titles they see," said Kokely.
The book vending machine became a reality after the Parma Schools Foundation was awarded $1,000 to be spent toward positive behavior initiatives.
Additional support from the PTA and prior fundraising efforts provided the necessary boost to offset additional costs.
“We were able to purchase the machine and then shop our book fair and receive some extra dollars to continue to replenish the books from our PTA," said Kokely.
Students like Logan can now earn tokens called "Starbucks" — because all students are considered stars — by "being respectful, being responsible and being ready to learn," said Sorozak.
Students simply slide the token into the vending machine, select the number of the book on a keypad and walk away with their favorite book.
Kokely says buying the book vending machine was a no-brainer because of its long-term sustainability and positive effects.
She says it has already changed the game for students and it's been a critical tool as reading rates nationwide took a major hit during the pandemic.
“The choice and the engagement and the excitement are all things that are very important with literacy. If the kids are excited about what they’re reading, they're gonna wanna read it," said Kokely.
Pleasant Valley Elementary will hold weekly and monthly raffles to win additional tokens for the books.
The vending machine has become so popular that neighboring district buildings are inquiring about how to get one for their students.