Kyle Elementary School is welcoming a new addition to its library halls, a book vending machine. 

“We were super excited to get the machine,” Kristen Jurek, Kyle Elementary librarian, said. “It’s something we’ve been wanting to do since last year when we had our read-a-thon in March.” 

The machine at the Hays Consolidated Independent School District school was bought as a tool to encourage students to read.  

Other schools districts in Central Texas are also using book vending machines to encourage students to read. Austin ISD states there are two elementary schools that have them, Pleasant Hill and McBee Elementary School.  

“I thought it would be a great way to just instill another way of love of reading to kids,” Jurek said. 

The vending machine has several rows filled with books for readers at every grade level. Students who finish reading a select number of books receive a token to retrieve a book.  

“One impact that it has, it encourages reading, that love of reading, picking whatever they want because a lot of times in class we’re telling them what level to read and giving them to read and this way they get to pick out exactly what they want,” Karen Lucita, principal at Kyle Elementary School, said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a wave of learning loss for many students across the nation.  

According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, otherwise known as the nation’s report card, reading scores for 4th and 8th graders declined compared to 2019. Texas, compared to the nation, showed no change.  

“We’ve definitely seen a learning loss, our third graders, definitely when they were in kindergarten, they didn’t finish their kindergarten year,” Lucita said. “So we’re seeing that, but we’re also seeing great gains. Students are working hard.” 

If your child is looking to improve its reading literacy, there are a few tips for parents.  

“Reading with them and finding a book you guys can read together and love together,” Lucita said. “Make math an everyday thing. If you’re cooking, how many cups do you need? How many do you see? Just insuring that love of reading and math is a part of life and that love of knowledge to incorporate it in our everyday living.”