JetBlue Places Free Book Vending Machines in NY

JetBlue Places Free Book Vending Machines in New York’s each of the Five Boroughs

JetBlue, New York’s Hometown Airline®, launched its ninth annual Soar with Reading initiative in its hometown, marking the first time its innovative free book vending machines have touched down in New York City.

Soar with Reading, an award-winning literacy initiative, tackles the issue of book availability in underserved communities, where access to age-appropriate books for children is often limited. Since 2015, JetBlue has taken a creative approach to this issue through its free book vending machine program which previously visited Detroit; San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.; Washington, DC and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

This summer, JetBlue will place six free book vending machines throughout New York City’s five boroughs, in areas where the need is greatest. The six vending machines will be placed in neighborhoods where the ability to purchase age appropriate books is limited, with one machine in each borough and two in Queens. To date, JetBlue, through its Soar with Reading initiative, has donated more than $3.5 million worth of books to kids in need.

“New York City is home to thousands of JetBlue crewmembers who work in the airline’s New York Support Center and JFK International and LaGuardia Airports,” said U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks, who represents New York’s Fifth Congressional District, mostly in Queens, where two vending machines will reside. “I encourage children and their families to take as many books as they want, as often as they want, throughout the summer – no strings attached – in the hopes that offering free access to books in a fun and convenient way will spark a lifelong love of reading.”

“As New York City’s hometown airline, we’re excited to bring our Soar with Reading program home. Over the past five years, we’ve made a tremendous impact with our book vending machine program,” said Icema Gibbs, director of corporate social responsibility, JetBlue. “We can’t deny the need right in our own backyard. This year, it was important for us to focus our efforts on the city that welcomed us from day one and made us who are. Although we’re located in Long Island City, there is so much more to New York City, from Brownsville to the South Bronx, Harlem and the Rockaways to Port Richmond. Our goal is to help improve book access for children in every borough and beyond.”

The vending machines, powered by Innovative Vending Solutions, will be restocked every two weeks with new titles and will feature a diverse cast of characters as well as options in both English and Spanish. Publishing partners include HarperCollins Publishers, Little Bee Books, Lil’ Libros, Scholastic, Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group and Barefoot Books. Additionally, the vending machines will include select books for adults as research shows that parents displaying behaviors like reading can improve educational outcomes for children.

“It’s so important to keep our kids entertained and engaged in learning while school is out during the summer. In Queens, we’re thrilled to welcome two free book machines that will be dispensing titles that are appropriate for all ages and reflect the incredible diversity of our borough,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

Vending machines will be located at:

  • Brooklyn: Brownsville Recreation Center | 1555 Linden Blvd. | Brooklyn, NY 11212
  • Bronx:PAL, Inc. New South Bronx Center | 991 Longwood Ave | Bronx, NY 10459
  • Manhattan: Riverbank State Park679 Riverside DriveNew York, NY 10031
  • Queens: Queens Public Library – Main Branch89-11 Merrick Blvd | Jamaica, NY 11432
  • Queens: Ocean Bay Community Cornerstone57-10 Beach Channel Drive | Arverne, NY 11692
  • Staten Island: Faber Park | Richmond Terrace | Staten Island, NY 10302

“For kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, summer often marks the beginning of the infamous summer slide,” says Dr. Susan B. Neuman, professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt. “Studies have shown that owning 25 books or more has a sizable effect on achievement, with each additional increment of books, such as 10 or more, improving achievement. This program allows children to own books and combat the knowledge loss that so often accompanies summer.”

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