South River EMC Helps Fund "The Bookworm" - Carolina Country
August 2021

Hargrove Elementary will welcome something new to its school this year, and it’s something that only one other school in Sampson County has, and only 550 schools nationwide.

It is a vending machine, which might not sound all that unusual, however it is what’s in the machine that makes it so unusual. The Bookworm is a book vending machine, and at Hargrove Elementary, it will hold picture and chapter books.

“I actually got the idea from a Facebook group for school librarians that I’m part of,” said Lauren Strickland, media specialist. “The librarians who had one just raved about it and I knew I had to have one!”

The Bookworm was an idea proposed by a vice principal at a New York School to improve reading scores. This individual contacted a local company, Global Vending Group, and proposed the idea. Scores aside, it is a different and exciting way to present new books to students.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the students are going to love it! Many of our students do not ever get to purchase a NEW book,” said Strickland. 

“I try to have new books in the library for them to check out, but obviously they have to return those. I think they are going to be thrilled that they actually get to take the book home and KEEP it!”

“I try to have new books in the library for them to check out, but obviously they have to return those. I think they are going to be thrilled that they actually get to take the book home and KEEP it!”

So, Strickland wrote an Operation Round Up grant application for the Bookworm and the initial books for the machine.

"It is no secret that books open children's minds and imaginations and this project will help create readers and thinkers," she said. "By helping our students get quality literature in their hands, we will help young minds grow through books and gain better understanding of skills and standards that are taught. Our students are constantly asking for particular and exciting books to read; they just can't seem to get enough, which is an excellent problem to have!"

Books are purchased with gold coins, called inchy golden tokens, and there is already a plan for how students will earn these tokens.

“Our plan is to incorporate the gold coins and Bookworm machine into our Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS), as well as reading goals. Currently, students earn “tickets” for modeling good behavior and going above and beyond expectations,” said Strickland. “Each week the tickets earned are put into a drawing. There are several winners and they receive a prize. We think a gold coin to visit the Bookworm would be an excellent prize!”

Strickland also has a plan to incorporate the Bookworms into students’ reading goals for the accelerated reader program.

The Bookworm will hold approximately 250 books, and those were carefully researched.

"I knew I had to get cost efficient books because the machine is going to have to be refilled. I also knew I had to get books the students would be interested in and actually want to take home," said Strickland. "I also had no idea how some of the books would actually fit in the machine."

However, upon turning to the Facebook group, she found that Scholastic has a program that provides book for the Bookworm.

Although the vending machine delivery was delayed, both teachers and students are eagerly anticipating its arrival.

In her grant application, Strickland also requested some updated reading material for the library.

"North Carolina has guidelines for libraries and their collections," she said. "Currently, the average copyright date of books in a school media center should be 2008 to be considered 'at level.'"

Hargrove's library collection average is about 2009, a year above the minimum, and as standards update, Strickland is trying to make sure the media center is keeping up.

While this is not Hargrove Elementary, or indeed Strickland's first grant request that was funded, it was different this time. "I was absolutely ecstatic," Strickland said. "Although I have received Operation Round Up grants in the past, somehow this one was extra special due to the Bookworm. I could not be more excited to share this amazing machine with my students!"

With a majority of students that love to read, there are still those that just do not and Strickland is trying to find books all students will enjoy.

Apply now for an Operation Round Up grant

South River EMC is proud to provide a means for members to help the community where they live – and it proves that small change changes lives. Deadline to apply is August 13.

Learn more

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