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Free Book Vending Machines Launched Across All NYC Boroughs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - School has been out for a few weeks, and if you're worried about your child going through summer brain drain, there are some innovative vending machines opening today that might help them out.

When you think vending machines, it's usually chips and soda. But these are filled with free books, and they're for everyone, reports CBS2's Cindy Hsu.

The idea is to promote reading for toddlers to 14-year-old readers, especially in under-served communities.

Marley Dias, from West Orange, N.J., is 14, and helped unveil the vending machines.

"They can take as many as they want, they are free. One hundred percent, and you don't have to return them," she said.

There are six vending machines throughout the five boroughs, and they're part of the Soar With Reading program from Jet Blue.

"Book ownership does help raise levels of intelligence in kids," said Dias. "It raises curiosity, it raises their ability to feel conscious, aware and motivated to keep on learning."

Bishop and Braylin chose several books.

"I picked that book because I like love, and the book is about love," 6-year-old Braylin Baptiste said.

Marley loves reading, but when she was 10, she didn't find enough books that had main characters of of color.

"The books were just mainly about white boys and dogs... I'm sick of it," she said.

So she started a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks, where she collected books with black girls as the main characters and donated them to schools and communities that need them.

She's collected 12,000 books in nearly three years. She even gave them out in Jamaica, where her mother grew up.

Marley also just wrote a book, to teach people how to start their own change campaigns. She wants social activism to become the norm.

So what's her dream?

"You can find kids like me anywhere, you'll know these kids. They'll be your students, your cousins, your nieces and nephews," she said. "To create positive change and impact in the world."

"How old are you again?" asked CBS2's Cindy Hsu.

"I'm 14," Marley said.

"Are you sure you're 14?" Hsu joked.

"Yes I'm sure," Marley said.

The vending machines will be replenished every two weeks so kids can keep coming back for a whole new selection of books.

Soar With Reading 2019 Vending Machine Locations

  • 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 Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031
  • Queens: Queens Public Library - Main Branch, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica, NY 11432
  • Queens: Ocean Bay Community Cornerstone, 67-10 Beach Channel Drive, Arverne, NY 11692
  • Staten Island: Faber Park, Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10302
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