Imagination Station: Book hunt teacher creates story vending machine in new venture to get children reading

A teacher whose book hunt became a global phenomenon has come up with another imaginative idea to get children reading.

Monday, 23rd September 2019, 12:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 12:43 pm
Westoe Crown Primary School pupil Ava Bennett with books that she is going to put into the Imagination Station as teacher Christine Elrick looks on. Picture by FRANK REID

Christine Elrick, 43, of Gordon Drive, East Boldon launched the Look for a Book North East England initiative in July, in a bid to encourage youngsters to find enjoyment in books.

The scheme, in which people place their old books in public places for others to find, has become a viral success, with more than 50,000 members of the Facebook group and books hidden across the world.

Now Christine, who is a literacy lead at Westoe Crown Primary School in South Shields, has created what she believes to be one of the first book vending machines.

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Headteacher Steve Price with Lily-Beth Gray and teacher Christine Elrick with Sebastian Richardson and fellow Westoe Crown Primary School pupils (left to right) Callum Nichols, Ava Bennett, Ruby Kellett, Francessca Mills, Harrison Cochrane, Alfie Mordue in front of the Imagination Station. Picture by FRANK REID

The fully-working machine, which pupils have named the ‘Imagination Station’, has pride of place in the school hall and offers a selection of much-loved children’s books for all ages, from the likes of The Gruffalo to works by Michael Morpurgo and David Walliams.

Every week a pupil from each class is recognised for their reading efforts and entered into a draw to win a golden ticket for the machine. A winner from Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, can then choose any book they wish to take home and keep.

Now in its third week, the Imagination Station is already making an impression on the young readers.

“They love it, because they have never seen anything like it. It’s like they have won the lottery,” said Christine, who came up with the idea in summer 2018 and has spent the last year tracking down the machine and having it modified.

Westoe Crown Primary School pupil Ava Bennett with a book she selected from the Imagination Station. Picture by FRANK REID

“I’m always looking for ways to encourage them to read,” she continued.

“As a teacher you see the interest in reading dropping year by year, but it opens so many doors for them. As well as improving their well-being you can already see improvements in school data.”

Headteacher, Steve Price commented: “It’s such a simple idea but it’s having a massive impact in encouraging children to engage in reading more, which is a battle for parents and for staff in school. As a motivating technique it’s a real success and hopefully more schools will catch on. “