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RACINE —A not-so-average vending machine was recently installed at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School. It is now stocked and ready for the upcoming school year and promotes literacy.

Unlike most vending machines, the one here at JLS, 1722 W. 6th St. in Racine, doesn’t store potato chips and fruit snacks; this vending machine is full of information and wisdom via rows of books. 

The Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine is made specifically for promoting positive behavior, equity and social-emotional learning in schools.

A gift that keeps giving

The vending machine was a gift from the school’s PTA, according to Racine Unified School District

Classics like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” to shorter reads like “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” are available inside the machine to entice students of all ages and reading abilities.

The books that are available in the machine will continue to change. Per RUSD, the PTA receives funds from Scholastic after each book sale event. The PTA purchases the books with those funds and stocks the machine.

book vending machine at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary
Books are loaded for the start of the school year. – Credit: JLS

Educator excited for opportunity

JLS Educator Rian Rodriguez is excited about the opportunity to continue promoting literacy in a new way.

book vending machine at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary
PTA President Renee Luchinske, Educator Rian Rodriguez, and Principal Jeremy Benishek stand proudly in front of the school’s new book machine. – Credit: JLS

“We have a huge push in the district to increase student reading fluency,” she said.

“The best way to do this is to get kids readings both inside and outside of school.”

The book machine is making books accessible to students and giving them an opportunity that may not have been available before.

How Inchy’s Book Worm Vending Machine works

Whereas vending machines commonly take money in exchange for a snack or drink, this vending machine will dispense books as a reward via a special token system.

Those who earn tokens will get the chance to cash them in, in exchange for some reading material. 

“This machine provides an opportunity for every student in the school to get at least one book to take home and enjoy,” said Rodriguez.

The upcoming school year will be the first year the book vending machine will be in use.

book vending machine at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary
A group stands in front of the book vending machine at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School at a ribbon cutting on Aug. 28. – Credit: JLS

“Students will receive tokens on their birthdays (summer birthdays will be celebrated on students’ half birthdays), if they are selected as the student of the month representing the IB Learner Profile trait of the month, and if they display exemplary achievements (e.g. taking action in the community),” explained the educator about how students can earn tokens.

Back to school

The 2023-24 school year for RUSD students will begin on Sept. 5. Open house is set for Aug. 31.

Information about the district can be found on their website.


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