SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County is installing a new initiative for learning across the school district.

Book vending machines are making their way into elementary schools to enhance reading.  

“Our book vending machine is an incentive for our students who participate in our reading program called accelerated reader,” said Media Specialist Rachel Carroll.

Each machine contains books on the state-approved reading list. Students earn tokens for the machine by reading books and taking a test. 

“This program allows the kids to take tests after they read the book. Testing their comprehension of what they’ve read and at different milestones get a token for the machine,” said Carroll. 

Dune Lakes Elementary School is the first to fill the machine. All thanks to a $105,000 grant from the St. Joe Community Foundation.

“We’ve had it up and ready to go since we had the students come and meet their teacher and we’re super excited. Like we said, we really want this to inspire students to want to read even more, we have a great accelerated reader program here already, and this is just one more incentive for students to be able to obtain a free book to take home to their family,” said Principal Carrie Chavers.

The machine will not accept any actual money. All of the free books must be earned through the reading program.

“It’s been utter excitement. They can’t wait. All kinds of little sticky fingerprints told me that they are ready to get into it,” said Carroll. “I hope that our students, who are more reluctant to read and take tests, will be more motivated.” 

Next to get established will be Bay School, Freeport, Maude Saunders, Paxton, Van R. Butler, and West Defuniak.