Book Vending Machine Tackles Childhood Literacy

City in California encourages reading using interactive device kids power with their library cards.

Santa Clara County in California is trying to make reading more interesting in a society where books just don’t seem to cut it anymore. They’ve introduced a vending machine that only serves up books, in the hope of encouraging children under five-years old to start reading more often.

41 percent of Santa Clara County third-graders are not reading at grade level, a deficiency which is thought to be caused by a gap in the need and availability of early learning and literacy opportunities in Northern Sunnyvale.

The machine was made possible by a $35,000 grant from the First 5 of Santa Clara County – a local public agency that distributes nearly $30 million in annual funding from California’s Proposition 10 Tobacco Tax. Housing 220 books, the books are targeted at Kindergarten and Pre-school children.

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Acting as a prototype, the agency wants to gauge the effectives of such a scheme, with the aim of inspiring other cities in the area to do the same. Some are skeptical about how effective such an expensive scheme could be, especially with the advent of affordable reading devices such as the Kindle becoming so popular.

Then again, an interactive option could be just what’s needed to keep children interested long enough to get their hands of a book and start reading.

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