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A Centre County non-profit hopes a new book vending machine will get students excited about reading

Penny Eifrig
The executive director of Random Acts of Reading, Penny Eifrig, and Centre Hall Elementary reading specialist, Kathy Smaniotto, stand with the new book vending machine at Centre Hall Elementary. The project received an "Awesome Grant" of $1,000 from 3 Dots in downtown State College.

The Centre County non-profit “Random Acts of Reading” is trying to get kids excited about reading by giving them a fun way to pick out new books. The organization will install the county’s first book vending machine at Centre Hall Elementary School on Friday.

Instead of snacks or soda, the book vending machine will be full of a diverse selection of children’s books, all curated by Random Acts of Reading.

Penny Eifrig is the executive director of the non-profit. She said the vending machine is designed to get students to want to read, rather than feeling forced.

"What I’m doing with the program is getting kids really excited about reading and writing,” Eifrig said.

The school will decide how students can earn tokens to "pay” for the books.

Eifrig said she created this program to help students feel seen.

“It’s gonna be filled with a lot of diverse books so that kids in areas where there might not be a lot of representation in their libraries will look at this vending machine and then see a book that they feel represented by. Or that they see their friend being represented by,” Eifrig said.

Extra perks are also hidden within the books, including a “Golden Ticket."

The student who finds the Golden Ticket will win a meet-the-author event for the entire school as well as a copy of their selected book for every child.

Casey Zanowic is a WPSU radio news intern for fall 2022.