Northwestern Elementary debuts reading room
There’s a place for the book lover, teacher and student, a little nook not too far from the classrooms, library and office at Northwestern Elementary.
The area, called The Tiger’s Reading Den, comes complete with comfy chairs, rugs, good lighting and a vending machine.
But this vending machine is no ordinary vending machine, this one dispenses books.
“The ultimate goal of this project is to continue to build a community of readers, promote literacy and encourage reading as fun’” Librarian Susan Hanlon said.
“I saw the idea floating around on social media. Different teacher and library accounts were showing book vending machines in their schools.
“A few friends shared it with me saying, ‘We should totally do this!’ or ‘This looks like something you’d do!’
“So I decided to run with the idea.”
The Tiger Den is nestled near the front of the school, visible to all visitors.
“The space can be used as a quiet reading area by any teacher and their class.
“My goal is have a Tiger’s Reading Den Day once a month, when tokens will be given out and then students who earned them will gather in The Den with me to cash in their token,” Hanlon said. “I also plan to take my library classes after checking out books in the library and using the rest of class quiet reading time.
“Many of our teacher assistants also use space in the hall to work with small groups of students so they can use that space, too.”
Hanlon’s idea was to create a reading spot and to name it, The Tiger’s Reading Den.
Students earn tokens for showing positive, respectful behavior from teachers.
The goal is that every student will earn a token twice a year to receive two free books.
Students can also “buy” a token with Tiger Paws they have earned through the school’s positive behavior program.
Just as with ordinary vending machines, students can make a selection. Books are returned to the library.
If the machine runs out of books, Hanlon will restock and replace them.
“I plan to continue to refill the machine as books run out,” she said. “I probably have about 20 different titles of picture books, chapter books and nonfiction books.”
The Tiger Den was made possible through a grant from the Northwestern Lehigh Education Foundation and a large donation from Dominic Cino at Ambition Gym.
“Dominic found the vending machine for me,” Hanlon said. “He got it set up to dispense books.”
She added that until recently the books had been purchased through Title I funds.
“I also have a Donor’s Choose Project currently active to be able to continue filling the machine with books,” Hanlon stated.
Hanlon also noted the support she has received along the way.
“Other important people who helped me immensely are Tracy Smoyer, Shawn Fies and Linda Eberle,” Hanlon said. “They helped paint the machine, design the logo, prep the machine and get the books ready.”