Rancho Cordova Youth Center’s book vending machine gets kids excited to read

Adreana Peterson, branch manager of the Rancho Cordova Youth Center, stands next to the book vending machine. The Rancho Cordova Youth Center is a facility that is open for all Rancho Cordova students and families that live in Rancho Cordova. (Photo courtesy of Adreana Peterson)

Keyshawn Davis

Youth members run out of the Rancho Cordova Youth Center doors excited about what they will show their parents. It’s an item they’ve received through hard work and dedication — a brand-new book. 

This isn’t an ordinary book that can be checked out from the library and then later returned. Instead, these are books that the youth received with tokens they’ve earned, which they can use on the brand-new book vending machine. They get to keep these books.

Peyton is a 7-year-old second grader who thinks the machine is cool and fun to use with the special tokens. “I got the book ‘We Are Family’ that Lebron James wrote,” Peyton said. “I got that one for being student of the month, but I’m working on getting a second one.”

The Rancho Cordova Youth Center installed a book vending machine in its facility, in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Rancho Cordova who’ve received grants to make the project happen.  

Kiwanis is an international organization focusing on improving the world one child at a time. The club in Rancho Cordova supports young people through service projects and various programs. They also provide scholarships and sponsor the Key Club at Cordova High School, which is a youth leadership organization. 

The club’s signature project currently is the Book Buddies club, where Kiwanis secures grant funds, raises money and buys books to give out to children in the Rancho Cordova community so that they can create their own home libraries and access to  books at home. 

The club secured a Community Enhancement and Investment Fund grant of $9,000 from the City of Rancho Cordova for the vending machine and related supplies. Kiwanis distributes books through a variety of ways and they supply books to vending machines at five school campuses in Rancho Cordova, in addition to the one at the Rancho Cordova Youth Center.

Lisa Burkholder, a member of the Kiwanis club in Rancho Cordova, said the book vending machines are used typically as a reward system or positive behavior reinforcement. So when a student earns tokens for the vending machine based on positive behavior, then they get to choose any book from the machine.

“The students get to go and put the token in the vending machine and choose like you would buy a candy. … They get to choose the book that they want out of the vending machine,” Burkholder said. “The idea is to create home libraries for children, so we want these books to go home. That’s why the children get to choose the books that they want.”

Burkholder said that each vending machine holds 250 books and there are over 100 books currently at the RCYC. 

The RCYC is a facility that is open for all Rancho Cordova students and  families that live in Rancho Cordova. They provide free after-school programming for youth in first through 12th grade. The youth center has a different approach when it comes to earning tokens for the vending machine. 

Adreana Peterson, branch manager of the RCYC, said they have provided a homework support hour in which they incorporate reading as a component of support. She said students fill out a book log for minutes or pages that they read and once they hit a goal of a certain amount of pages or minutes that they’ve completed, they turn in their logs and receive a coin to redeem for a book from the vending machine.

“The kids are excited to read,” Peterson said. “So we give them a designated amount of time to read and to work on that homework, but we’re seeing that the majority of them just want to spend their entire time reading because they want to reach their goal and then exchange their coin or putting the coin into the vending machine and getting to push their own selection.”

Peterson said the youth members feel proud about the choices they make when selecting a book from the machine.

“Personally, I didn’t know how excited or how the kids would really respond to it, but they have been really excited about it,” Peterson said. “It’s not just a novelty for them. It’s something that they get a lot of pride in that they made that selection, and they achieved something and they’re getting something in return.”

Burkholder thinks the book vending machine is important because it encourages reading and incentivizes youth to earn more books.

“You can reward young people with all kinds of things, candy, treats of some kind, pizza parties, they’re all great,” Burkholder said. “It’s something that they want, which they demonstrate by doing what they can to earn those tokens so they can get a free book. And we think it’s important to have vending machines just as another way of rewarding great behavior and encouraging literacy in reading for kids.”

This story is part of the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative. Solving Sacramento is supported by funding from the James Irvine Foundation and the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.

Be the first to comment on "Rancho Cordova Youth Center’s book vending machine gets kids excited to read"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.