“In partnership with JetBlue, Newark rolls out book vending machines at libraries and rec centers” by Natalie Duddridge, CBS New York

NEWARK, N.J. — New vending machines have popped up in Newark, but they’re not what you’d expect. They have swapped candy for books.

As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Tuesday, it’s designed to encourage a summer of reading for students.

Instead of buying soda or snacks, the digital vending machine at Van Buren Library offers food for thought.

Children can scroll on what looks like a giant tablet and order books at no cost.

“I choose the Cat with the Ninja,” 8-year-old Isaac said.

“It’s fantastic for the kids, free books,” his mother added.

All kids have to do is place their order at one of five vending machines located at libraries around the city. The books will delivered to the same location in about week.

“It’s important to give out books to children who might not have their own books,” said Icema Gibbs, VP of corporate responsibility at JetBlue.

The free books are thanks to a JetBlue Airways program called “Soar With Reading” to help underserved youth. Each year they choose a new city. This year, it’s Newark.

“Data shows when kids choose books, they are more likely to read them, so that’s a good thing. And to be able to pick a variety of books that are diverse,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.

“‘Halal Hotdog’ is about an Arab-American Muslim boy who loves sharing halal hotdogs with his family. It’s really important for every child to see themselves in publishing,” author Susannah Aziz said.

Newark is also hosting summer reading events with local authors, inspiring the next generation of writers.

“‘Dog Man’ is about a cop and a dog who both got injured,” 8-year-old Kennedy said.

“One of my goals this summer is actually to write my own book and publish it, problems in the world and how we can fix them as kids,” 11-year-old Kylie added.

One page at a time, they’re training their minds to think big.

To date, JetBlue has donated more than $4 million worth of books to children in need. The program runs through August. For a list of book vending machine locations, please click here.