Got a Token? Get a Book!

Angela PritchettOct. 25, 2023

The mysterious box at Kansas City International Academy contained a book vending machine.

When the huge box appeared in the hallway of Kansas City International Academy with a sign that read “What is in here?” students made all kinds of fun guesses and couldn’t wait to find out. Everyone gathered on October 23 and cheered as the box was removed to reveal a remarkable vending machine stocked with free books. 

The placement of book vending machines at three area schools was the successful project of Lead to Read KC, Turn the Page KC, and Literacy KC, all in an effort to increase children’s access to free books. In addition to the unveiling at Kansas City International Academy, students, staff, and Reading Mentors also celebrated installations at Trailwoods Elementary in Kansas City, MO, and Turner Sixth Grade Academy in Kansas City, KS.

“Thanks to this partnership we’re able to delight students with an incentive that encourages more reading outside of school.” said Pauly Hart, Lead to Read KC Executive Director. “The more we can make reading a fun and rewarding activity, the more kids will want to read.”

Celebrating the installation of Trailwoods Elementary’s book vending machine.

Each vending machine has space for approximately 250 books, which equates to around 20 copies each of 12-15 titles. Vending tokens will be presented to students to feed the machine and select a free book to take home. Schools will determine specific ways for the books to serve as incentives and rewards.

Turn the Page KC’s work on the project was supported by a grant funded by the HDR Foundation, a philanthropic foundation funded and led by employees at global design firm HDR. Turn the Page KC also will supply new books to refill the machines during the first three years. Lead to Read KC helped provide funding for all three vending machines and Literacy KC contributed funding support for the Turner Academy placement.