Above: A family shows off their new books courtesy of the JetBlue vending machine.
Last week, JetBlue installed a free book vending machine at Central Library as part of its Soar With Reading initiative, which promotes literacy and reading. The vending machine is full of children’s books, which customers can take home to start their own libraries. Every two weeks this summer, different books will become available in the machine. The vending machine has books for children ages 0-14, ranging from picture books to young adult titles. There is also one title for adults. Individuals are invited to take as many books as they would like.
Today, a special storytime featuring local author David Erza Stein celebrated the launch of the machine. Stein, the author and illustrator of 17 books, read from three of his books, including Dinosaur Kisses, which is available both from the vending machine and from Queens Public Library. He also read Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise and Hush Little Bunny. The enthusiastic audience of children and parents enjoyed the storytime, lining up afterwards for autographs from the author and to collect books from the vending machine. After storytime, children went to the Children's Library Discovery Center to make a dinosaur craft.
Above: David Ezra Stein reads Hush Little Bunny. A storytime guest with his dinosaur craft.
Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said that the initiative can help prevent the summer slide, the term for educational gains that are lost over the summer. Jet Blue’s Executive Vice President for People Mike Elliott talked about the company’s desire to inspire. Several elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, attended the kickoff event. Melinda Katz said that reading can take you anywhere, while Jimmy Van Bramer told the crowd there is nothing more important than education and reading. Alicia Hyndman reminisced about coming to the Central Library most weekends as a child.
JetBlue’s Icema Gibbs, director of corporate social responsibility, shared that the initiative has already broken records in Queens. In less than one week, 4,000 free books have been given away at Central, requiring the vending machine to be refilled forty times. The previous high was 2,000 books, meaning that Queens Public Library customers have doubled the record.
Bring your children to Central this summer to acquire new books and build a library in your home!
Below: JetBlue Executive Vice President for People Mike Elliott, JetBlue Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Icema Gibbs, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, author David Ezra Stein, and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman; a family uses the Soar With Reading book vending machine.