How Book Vending Machines Can Help Those Living In America’s Book Deserts

Low-income neighborhoods in major cities across America have book deserts — a limited access to children’s books negatively impacts children’s vocabulary and reading comprehension. Book vending machines, installed in high-trafficked areas within these book deserts by NYC’s JetBlue airline, might be able to combat the problem.

In 2016, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development led a study in partnership with JetBlue. The results shed a light on the lack of children’s books in low-income neighborhoods across the three major cities of Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Those living in concentrated poverty, the study holds, have a much more limited access to print: They live in book deserts. The socioeconomic inequalities can be stark and they come at a cost, given that reading books as a child can have an out-sized impact on someone’s reading skills across the rest of their life.

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