The Golden Ticket to Literacy … | Center County Gazette

Book vending machines, free books, author visits and oral reading incentives — coming soon to a school near you

LEMONT — Just in time for the launch of Center C.ounty’s biggest fundraising event, Center Gives, local nonprofit Random Acts of Reading (RoAR) is launching an innovative and exciting literacy project, The Golden Ticket to Literacy Project.

It takes an innovation from a vending machine company that is now putting something healthy in its machines — books — and then RoAR adds an element of excitement for the kids: a quest for the Golden Ticket.

The concept of the book vending machines is that kids can earn points toward a golden token by doing good work, being a good friend, being helpful and kind according to a school’s PBIS reward system.

When they reach the benchmark for the golden token, they can join the others who earned a token that day and redeem it for a book of their choice from the school’s book vending machine, which is prominently placed so kids can look every day at the books they are working towards.

Inside one of those books (every half year) is hidden a golden ticket that wins a meet-the-author event for the whole school, when all the kids in the appropriate grades will receive a free copy of the author’s book to take home as well.

For some children, these could be the first books of their own (61 percent of children in low-income homes have zero books at home, according to research by Scholastic Books).

Further research clearly shows that access to books and reading at home is key to learning success.

The machines will be filled with diverse, inclusive and educational books by a variety of indie and larger publishers who will be supporting the project with their great books at discounted prices and their authors for the school visits.

In addition to the thrill of finding the golden ticket in one special book, which is celebrated by the whole school, the picture books include a phone number kids can call to have the book read to them, and even more fun, a number to call where they can “read to Daisy and Max,” shelter dogs who are played recordings of the kids reading.

Not only does that promote at-home reading with less stress (the dogs aren’t judging them if they aren’t yet reading perfectly, and kids love reading to dogs), but the dogs also apparently have much lower stress levels when they listen to the recordings.

Based on Lemont, Random Acts of Reading is launching the program locally before making it accessible nationwide and is looking for a few proponents who want to help get it into their schools.

RoAR is looking for five schools for the pilot project, which can also be funded in part by ESSER funds provided by the federal government to support innovative learning ideas to help close the COVID learning gap, and by local companies, who can sponsor a machine and /or fund the quarterly supply of books in a branded book vending machine.

Contact Penny Eifrig, the founder of Random Acts of Reading, at [email protected]if you want to get out more or get involved.

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