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FOOD FOR THE BRAIN: A look at the new book vending machine in Delano

It's an idea created for the youth by the youth. 17-year-old Carter Beardsley came up with the idea as a way to improve Delano's literacy rates and to give back to the schools he went to as a kid
Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 12, 2024

DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — A book vending machine has recently made its way to Delano, aimed to help improve literacy rates among younger students. Since its grand opening, 40 students have received a free book.

  • Video shows the brand new book vending machine that has come to Harvest Elementary and La Vina Middle School for students to share
  • It was an idea three months in the making, thought by 17-year-old Carter Beardsley who wanted to find a way to give back to the schools he went to growing
  • Only being up and running for about a week so far, roughly 40 students have received free books.

Transforming lives through literacy. That's the goal the Kern Literacy Council abides by every day and has now taken a new creative approach. A book vending machine is just one way that the Delano Elementary School District is trying to increase their literacy rates.

11-year old Christopher Rivas is reading "The Phantom Tollbooth”. A book that he says his mother would read to him before bedtime, but the book didn't come from the schools library.

Neighborhood News Reporter Ruby Rivera interviewing Christopher Rivas & Kayleen Hernandez about the books they're reading
Neighborhood News Reporter Ruby Rivera interviewing Christopher Rivas & Kayleen Hernandez about the books they're reading

The new book vending machine is shared by Harvest Elementary and La Vina Middle School. Dispensing free books, students must earn a coin from their teacher in order to receive a book. Coins are earned by things like grade or attendance improvements.

Rivas receiving a coin from his teacher says he was ecstatic to get a book as reading is one of his favorite pastimes.

"Even if they don't have pictures you can kind of imagine them in your head and it like helps you just broaden your imagination,” said Rivas. “It's kind of like watching a movie with out like watching it through a screen it's kind of like reading it."

5th grader Kayleen Hernandez also received a coin and went home with "Charlotte's Web". Hernandez says her love for reading started in first grade and she's now able to help her sister with her reading.

"I have a sibling and she struggles on reading so we have to help her on her sight words,” said Hernandez. “I feel happy because I'm helping her."

It's kids like Hernandez and Rivas that 17-year-old Carter Beardsley had in mind when coming up with this idea. Going to Harvest and La Vina growing up, Beardsley says this was his way of giving back to his community in an impactful way.

Ruby interviewing Carter Beardsley, the 17-year-old who came up with the idea for the book vending machine
Ruby interviewing Carter Beardsley, the 17-year-old who came up with the idea for the book vending machine

"With literacy comes numeracy. When people struggle to read they may not be able to understand a math problem as easier as someone else,” said Beardsley. “They might not be able to understand science as well as someone else so literacy is something that is multifaceted beyond just reading a book."

Ian Anderson with the Kern Literacy Council says Delano has always been open to new ideas like this and that is why its reading levels are increasing rapidly.

"Statewide we’re looking at 46.6% of kids are at or below or meeting or exceeding reading standard,” said Anderson. “Delano is at 42.47%. That is pretty good I have to say they’re almost at pre-pandemic levels."

And with this new addition to the schools -- with the push of a button, more kids like Rivas and Hernandez can improve their reading.

"It just is a cool feeling being able to come here and get a book for I mean just doing, doing your best,” said Rivas.

Currently, the KLC is working to expand on the types of books offered — bringing in books with more inclusivity where every child is able to see themselves in a book. Along with the creation of a second vending machine that will be placed in the Department of Human Services Foster Care Facility.


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