KENILWORTH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of stress on students, so one area school decided to try something different to spark some joy.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the school brought in vending machines — but not the kind you might be thinking.

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Under a balloon rainbow sits a new vending machine at Harding Elementary School in Kenilworth, New Jersey.

Instead of being packed with junk food, this one is filled with books. There are classics like Nancy Drew, and new ones like Diary Of A Minecraft Zombie.

Teacher Leslie Bedford worked with the parent-teacher organization to fund the project.

“Anything that we can do to get books into the hands of kids is exactly what we want to be doing. We’re going to reward them and make books exciting and fun,” Bedford said.


Students can earn gold coins for good deeds and more, then select a book of their choice.

“Working hard and getting good grades,” one student said.

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“I usually read Junie B. Jones every night,” another girl added.

The school also held an art contest to decorate the vending machine – a needed distraction from the pandemic.

“I like to draw, so it was a lot of fun,” said sixth grader Anjali Shah.

Students and parents made a video to get everyone excited for the big reveal.

“An innovative idea to the school, especially when our kids have gone through so much this year with the pandemic and everything. Just to give them a glimmer of hope, something to look forward to,” said Jemia Singleton, a PTO co-president.

“Reading just opens up so many doorways, use of the imagination and things like that. Knowledge is power,” said dad Andy Rivera.

The school will continue to fundraise so the book vending machine can live on after the pandemic.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.