Instead of snacks, this school vending machine doles out books

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 1:24 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A friendly competition between Jonesboro Visual and Performing Arts students of who could collect the most pennies has resulted in a new book vending machine.

“The purpose of the book machine was to help filter out books throughout the school,” said Latwayla Knowlton, the school’s instructor facilitator. “We received a grant called the SOAR grant and one of the number one objectives of the grant was to provide exposure to both students and staff here, so the book machine was chosen as one of those avenues.”

On Monday, the sixth-graders were awarded a trophy for collecting the most pennies during last year’s Penny Wars competition.

They also cut the ribbon on the new book vending machine.

With his coin, Jude Mitchell selected Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes.

“I’m really interested in 9/11 [and] what happened. My grandma told me about it. I asked her a few questions. She told me, my grandpa, his birthday was on 9/11 and she was celebrating, and the news came on and showed a clip of what was happening that day,” Mitchell said.

Taelor Calloway went with a book she has already read, opting for Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

Students will earn coins from teachers and staff to purchase books from the machine.

“As long as we keep filling it with books, students will be able to receive it and it doesn’t take money,” Knowlton explained. “We have little golden coins that we pass out. So, students are able to earn those coins from anyone in the building for behavior, academic [and] for character.”

VPA educators encourage the students to work on character building, especially since October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Penny Wars was just one initiative done by Parents and Teachers Helping Students also known as PATHS.

The group says they have lost a lot of funding since the start of the pandemic and they are always looking for sponsors and volunteers to help with initiatives like the book vending machine. To find out how you can help, click here or send donations via Paypal to

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