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14-Year-Old Helps Launch Book Vending Machines for Kids Across NYC

14-Year-Old Helps Launch Book Vending Machines for Kids Across NYC

Kids can get the books for free, don’t have to return them, and can read as many as they’d like throughout the summer.

Six vending machines offering free books to kids who want to avoid the summer slump opened across the five boroughs on July 11. 14-year-old Marley Dias from West Orange, NJ helped to unveil the machines and emphasized the books are free for everyone. Kids can take whichever books they are interested in, and don’t have to return them. The vending machines are part of Jet Blue’s Soar with Reading program. The machines aim to promote reading in toddlers up through teenagers, especially in underserved communities of the city.

“Book ownership does help raise levels of intelligence in kids,” Marley told CBS2 New York. “It raises curiosity, it raises their ability to feel conscious, aware and motivated to keep on learning.”

Marley has always loved reading, but has grown frustrated with a lack of representation in children’s books for kids of color. Most books available for kids are all about “white boys and dogs,” she says, and she’s sick of it. So she started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign and collected books that contained black girl main characters, donating them to schools and communities in need. She has collected 12,000 books in three years. Despite being from West Orange, Marley has distributed the books in Jamaica, where her mother grew up. She also just wrote a book to teach people how to start their own change campaigns.

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“You can find kids like me anywhere, you’ll know these kids. They’ll be your students, your cousins, your nieces and nephews,” she said.

The book vending machines will be replenished every two weeks so kids will never be without fresh books. Locations include

  • Brooklyn: Brownsville Recreation Center, 1555 Linden Blvd., Brownsville
  • Bronx: PAL, Inc. New South Bronx Center, 991 Longwood Ave
  • Manhattan: Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, Upper West Side
  • Queens: Queens Public Library – Main Branch, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica
  • Queens: Ocean Bay Community Cornerstone, 67-10 Beach Channel Drive, Arverne
  • Staten Island: Faber Park, Richmond Terrace

Main Image: Marley showing off the vending machines. Credit CBS2 New York.