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student with book vending machine
David GaygenApr 15, 2024 11:51:01 AM4 min read

PBIS Success: Reading Is The Reward in Bastrop ISD

In Round Rock, Texas, an new initiative is turning reading into a reward. Withing the Bluebonnet Elementary School's current PBIS framework, Inchy's Bookworm Vending Machine is gets kids excited about reading.

Why PBIS Matters

Bastrop Independent School District (ISD) has embraced a comprehensive approach to education. Through the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), every student receives the assistance they need. This holistic model includes components like PBIS, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and Response to Intervention (RTI).

Laura Baker, Director of Student Services as Bastrop ISD said:

"When joined the district, I started looking at everything we were doing and where I wanted us to go... which was to move towards PBIS, SEL, restorative practices, being trauma informed, and a whole child approach instead of just RTI. We needed to shift peoples' thinking, bring all of the pieces of the puzzle together, and educate everyone that a "whole child approach" is actually MTSS—providing a multitude of supports for all students in every tier."

Identifying the Need For PBIS

According to Bluebonnet Elementary is a public school in Round Rock, Texas. The student body at Bluebonnet Elementary consists of 328 students, ranging from PK to 5th grade.

pbis goals puzzle pieces

  • Only 12% of students were able to reach proficiency or higher in math.
  • 17% of students achieved proficiency or higher in reading.

The school has a minority student enrollment of 91%. The student population is 48% female students and 52% male students. Additionally, 70% of students at the school come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Bluebonnet Elementary employs 35 full-time equivalent teachers and 2 full-time school counselors.

Identifying the need for an improvement plan, the school district launched a new Balanced literacy curriculum. The program included several components: new textbooks, a leveled library for every elementary and intermediate campus to support guided reading, and a 300-book classroom library for every ELA classroom in the district.

Although the tools to teach literacy were there, the real challenge was transforming reading from an assignment into a truly rewarding experience. But the PBIS team looked at the data and identified a need for a program that would get kids excited about reading.

Why Try A Book Vending Machine?

The school librarian stumbled upon the concept of a book vending machine through social media and was immediately captivated.

“I wanted books to actually be a reward, and I wanted there to be this positive energy around getting a book.” Bluebonnet School Librarian,Patti Nix, told KUT News in a 2024 interview.

Nix received a grant from the Bastrop Education Foundation to purchase the book vending machine. Upon its arrival at the campus, she aimed to create anticipation and generate enthusiasm among the students.

“It’s motivation for kids. It’s motivation for teachers to remember to recognize kids because they want their kids to visit the vending machine. And it’s just so cool,” she says. “And I love that we’re putting this positivity on getting a book.” Said Nix.

bluebonnet es book vending machine

Aligning with PBIS Principles

The best thing about Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine is that it aligns with PBIS initiatives already in place. For example, whenever a student at Bluebonnet Elementary has an academic or behavioral achievement that results in a positive office referral they receive a token for the vending machine. The rest of the students enthusiastically support and encourage them.

“They’re so proud to come back with a book. They come in [and they’re like], ‘Look, look, Ms. Grafton! Look what I got!’ So they’ve very proud of it,” says 4th Grade Teacher Courtney Grafton.

But the teachers are saying that the real incentive here is the choice. Grafton emphasizes the importance of allowing students to select their own reading material.

“It’s more of an enjoyable thing. ‘I picked this book. I get to read it all by myself. Nobody’s making me do it and I get to do it just for my own enjoyment,” she says. ”So, I think that element makes it really cool.”

Measuring Success: Is PBIS Effective? Is Book Vending A Good Incentive?

When the machine was installed two years ago, students with good behavior got to use the vending machine. npr.brightspotcdn-1They were picked to choose a book during a special event at school. According to Nix, positive office referrals have tripled since the introduction of the machine.

“It’s motivation for kids. It’s motivation for teachers to remember to recognize kids because they want their kids to visit the vending machine. And it’s just so cool,” she says. “And I love that we’re putting this positivity on getting a book.”

Fourth Grade Teacher, Isleen Ortiz, told KUT News, “I love that the kids are getting back into reading,” she says. “I know with electronics and everything it’s kind of a battle.”

While Librarian, Patti Nix said, “We’re trying to show that reading is a positive thing,” she says. “It’s not a punishment. It’s not a homework assignment. It’s an enjoyable thing.“

Expanding Horizons

Buoyed by the success at Bluebonnet Elementary, the Bastrop School District is poised to expand Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine and its PBIS initiative to other campuses.

The integration of Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine at Bluebonnet Elementary shows how innovative approaches can breathe new life into educational programs like PBIS. By making reading a reward, the program encourages literacy and a love for reading. The program is doing well and shows how imagination and creativity can shape the future of education.


David Gaygen

There is something exciting about a book vending machine. Everyone who hears about it, instantly wants to be a part of it—and that is David's favorite part of the job. In addition to being the community manager and content creator at, he also enjoys being part of the Reading Revolution Podcast. Read. Reward. Inspire. That's what it's all about. Join David and this ever-growing community of educators and literacy champions at