INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A newly installed vending machine at an i-p-s elementary school isn’t serving up soda… but books! 

Colleen Turner is a language teacher at Meredith Nicholson School 96. “Students can put a golden coin in the machine and select a book and keep that book forever,” Turner said.

Students earn coins through different incentives, like attendance and reaching academic goals. Teachers hope this will incentivize reading for students whose learning was disrupted by the pandemic. 

“The third graders were hit hardest during the pandemic so we’re really pushing reading and giving them extra support,” Turner said.

1 in 5 Indiana students are behind in reading, according to recent IREAD data. Teachers hope offering the books for students to keep will inspire students to learn outside of school and improve their reading abilities. 

“Reading opens the world,” Turner said.

The books are purchased through the school’s budget but they’re accepting brand new book donations. IPS plans to install a book vending machine in every elementary school in the district. 

“It’s only going to help them down the road,” Turner said. “The goal long term is to graduate from high school and make a great choice about their futures. We know this is only going to help them keep going through the school system.”

The school is accepting new book donations to continue offering the program. To donate, send an email to