Richardson Elementary finds dynamic way to encourage student reading

By Josh Beavers

Richardson Elementary has found an innovative way to encourage a true love of reading for its students.

Principal Michelle Finley unveiled the school’s new Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine last week. The machine works by rewarding kids for good behavior, good grades, and good attendance.

“We have multiple incentives at ESR to promote reading, attendance, behavior, and other academic growth,” Finley told the Webster Parish Journal. “Students can earn tickets each week that go in the drawing for the monthly prize balloons. We will draw for two balloons filled with prizes each month.”

Finley said gold coins for the book vending machine can also be earned for reaching Accelerated Reader point clubs at each 20-point increment (20, 40, 60, etc.). “A special ‘thank you’ to our local Minden Walmart for funding the grant to purchase the balloon stuffing machine and other materials used to make these unique prize balloons,” she said.

According to the manufacturer’s website, “We believe that the combination of vending books and your own personalized reward system could bridge the gap between literacy and engagement. Social responsibility should be a big part of any company. We are proud for utilizing our resources and directing them towards literacy for all students. This program is a great way we can prepare children for the future. Let’s bring engagement and excitement to reading books again.”

Finley said the school waited eight long months for the machine to arrive due to COVID delays, but the students have been excited for the arrival.

“Many parents have asked if they could buy a gold coin for their child to pick out a book, but at this time it is strictly an incentive for our students,” she said. “Accelerated Reader is used to motivate, monitor, and manage students’ independent reading practice. Our goal at E. S. Richardson is to help students develop a true love for reading.”

The machine has a custom designed wrap that ties in with the school mascot and Leadership focus.

“Each year we teach the 7 Habits of Happy Kids throughout the school year,” Finley said. “Students learn 7 healthy habits, what they mean, how they can implement them, and how these habits can help them to be successful in life.”

She wanted to thank all the parents who help the school. “If it were not for the parental support of our annual school fundraiser and uniform t-shirt sales, these types of unique incentives would not be possible,” she said.

PHOTO:  Raelyn Goodwin was the winner of the August prize balloon and a gold coin used to select the first book.