Book 'vending machine' to boost literacy
A VICTORIAN school has introduced the first "literacy vending machine" in the southern hemisphere in a bold bid to improve students' reading and writing.
The $20,000 machine dispenses short stories that take one to five minutes to read.
Students at Bannockburn P-12 School, near Geelong, are writing the stories that are dispensed by the machine.
Principal Rob Nelson said the short stories - a "fast food version" of books - would encourage children to read and write. The Short Edition machines first appeared at French railway stations as a way to entertain commuters.
It is believed there are only two privately owned machines outside Europe - one in a Los Angeles restaurant and the other at Bannockburn.
"It's a great incentive for the students to write," Mr Nelson said.
"The story machine will hopefully stir the passion in children to write.
"We know that children love to show their grandparents, parents and family what they have done at school. The idea that anyone in the community could read a child's story will hopefully inspire them."
Research from the US has found writing can dramatically boost a students' reading ability.
It improved their reading fluency and comprehension of texts written by others.
Dr Noella Mackenzie, senior lecturer in literacy studies at Charles Sturt University, said writing was the "unsung hero" of literacy.
"Writing is every bit as important in reading in literacy, if not more important in the early years," Dr Mackenzie said.
"Every time we engage children in writing we are also encouraging them to read. You get more bang for your buck with writing."
Ms Fox slammed "horrendous" levelled readers - sets of books that increase in difficulty.
"There has been a takeover in schools of teaching to read using only these school readers," she said.
"They are so badly written and they are hideously boring.
"If children are not exposed to books written by the best authors in whatever country they are in, they will never be able to write well and never know how amazing literature can be.
"It's much easier to learn to read with a book that you love than a book that is boring."