Amazing book vending machine and online bedtime stories among magical covid-safe reading projects at Jarrow school

A book vending machine is one of the creative new ways children and families have been able to indulge in stories and hone their reading skills during the pandemic.

By Ross Robertson
Thursday, 6th May 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:00 pm
The magic of reading at St Joseph's

With its usual reading clubs and book-sharing schemes hampered by covid precautions, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Jarrow, like others across the country, has had to re-think how it serves the needs of children.

But the school also usually involves the whole community in its reading projects, with school reading clubs for families, lunchtime Super Star Readers, where pupils from all classes share books, and a reading reward scheme that incentivises children to read – all of which have been difficult to work during the pandemic.

But the school said staff, pupils, and the community have worked to get around the problems in creative ways to “reignite the passion for reading”.

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St Joseph's pupils with the book vending machine, dubbed the Dream Big Read Machine

This has been done by redeveloping St Joseph’s school library – supported by what the school calls “our very generous parental contributions”, created an online virtual library, and share bedtime stories through its YouTube channel.

But one of the most intriguing initiatives is a book vending machine – called the Dream Big Read Machine – where pupils who have shown a love of reading can choose a free book from the machine.

Teacher Kate Bertram said The Dream Big Read Machine has already created quite a stir, with a significant increase in pupils reading both at home and in the school, which is part of the Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust.

She said: “As Literacy Lead, reading is always a huge priority. The children are ecstatic with these new additions and reading has once again been elevated in school, which is wonderful to see.”

St Joseph's pupils with the book vending machine, dubbed the Dream Big Read Machine

Pupils say they love the new ways of getting involved in reading, which includes an amazing ‘book wall’ in the library area.

Noah Tuplin, who is in Year 6, said: "The book vending machine makes us all want to read more. It's much more exciting to choose a book like this than just pick one from a pile"

Rio Snee, in Year 5, said: "I love the book wall. A lot of my favourite books are on there"

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Happy pupils in front of the St Joseph's book wall