A new way to advance literacy in early learning


Eddie Bernice Johnson STEM Academy student Clarissa Alejandre-Carrasco tried out her school’s brand new book vending machine on Tuesday, thanks to a generous donation from Atmos Energy to the Dallas Education Foundation. 

Sheena Morgan, Manager of Public Affairs at Atmos Energy, is proud to support Dallas ISD students, “The book vending machine is an example of our continued investment in education and literacy programs by providing books to elementary students and encouraging a love of reading.”

Rather than a typical snack or drink dispenser, the book vending machine sparks a different kind of excitement for teachers and students – advancing literacy from a young age. To activate the machine, teachers will hand out tokens to their students as a reward. Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School was also gifted with its own fully stocked book vending machine this week. 

“This vending machine and the one at Burleson reinforce in our young students that reading can be and is fun. They represent opportunities for our early learners to choose a book for their own collection and most importantly, to succeed,” Victor Vital, Dallas Education Foundation board president, said.

“Literacy is extremely important to my students because they’re at the beginning of their reading journey,” said Janese Gilyard, a second-grade teacher at Eddie B. Johnson. “They’re excited about knowing how to read, they want to read at home and they have to read every day. It’s a very crucial time for me to foster the excitement and water the seed that’s already there so they can have a lifelong love for learning.”

Director of Early Learning Debbie Murillo and her department curated an initial set of books, ones they found particularly engaging for students’ first experiences with the machine. This gift is a gateway for positive association with reading and learning for students, especially those who do not have access to books at home. 

Eddie B. Johnson Assistant Principal Jessica Walker is looking forward to seeing young readers have the opportunity to self-select things they’re interested in. Being able to see the titles in the display and share what they choose with their friends will ignite a passion for reading, she said. 

“If a student isn’t literate, then the opportunities they have are limited. We want to make sure that our students are literate when they leave our campus so they can be good, successful students in the community,” Walker said.

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