Apr. 30—LIMA — Tucked inside the corner of the Heritage Elementary School lunchroom is a vending machine filled with books. There are comic books and chapter books. Books about hurricanes and sharks and robots and ballerinas. Books with inspiring stories and books about athletes or dinosaurs.
Students who exhibit good behavior can earn a ticket that buys them a book from the cafeteria vending machine. But unlike the books students borrow from the library, these books don't need to be returned.
"Some kids don't have books (at home)," said Scott Spriggs, assistant principal at Heritage Elementary.
Spriggs recently introduced the book vending machine concept to Heritage to give students an opportunity to earn books of their own.
The novelty of the vending machine, Spriggs said, gets students excited about reading by creating an incentive for students to read inside and outside the classroom.
The school plans to give away 50 to 100 books each week, giving students the opportunity to earn multiple books throughout the school year.
Other Lima schools properties may get their own book vending machines too, but for now the program is limited to Heritage, which formally opened the machine to students on Friday.
Students gathered inside the cafeteria, peeking inside the vending machine to see which book they wanted to unlock first and taking a few minutes to browse through their new reading material.
"They feel like, 'This is my book. I've earned it,'" Spriggs said.