NEWARK, NJ — Mayor Ras J. Baraka, U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., JetBlue dignitaries and children’s book authors joined together on June 28 to launch the airline’s “Soar With Reading” initiative by cutting the ribbon to unveil one of the five vending machines located in Newark to give out free children’s books to young residents. The ceremony was held at the Newark Public Library, located 5 Washington St.
JetBlue’s five free digital book vending machines are available to visitors throughout the wards of Newark. Each time someone visits a machine, they will have the opportunity to order an assortment of brand new books that will be distributed to them throughout July and August, completely free of charge. The vending machines hold a diverse selection of titles and allow visitors the opportunity to search by various categories, including title and author, as well as suggested reading level. To date, JetBlue, through its Soar with Reading initiative, has donated more than $4 million worth of books to children in need.
“JetBlue is partnering with Newark to create an innovative program that will give our youth in every ward free access to books all summer long. It is important for our children to find themselves, in stories and pictures, in books. First we learn to read, then we read to learn. I want to thank our partners for providing our children with access to literature. This is a holistic approach to defining the future of our youth and in turn the future of our city,” Baraka said.
“For more than a decade, JetBlue has been dedicated to eradicating book inequality through our Soar with Reading Program,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue vice president of corporate social responsibility, and diversity, equity and inclusion. “We’re proud to return the popular program to the tristate area this year, landing in Newark, with five digital book vending machines to open more pathways for youth to connect with joys of literature and imagination. We’re passionate about giving back to our crewmembers, customers and communities we serve, and look forward to an enriching summer of reading in Newark.”
The digital vending machines, powered by Ricoh, will feature titles with a diverse cast of characters as well as options in both English and Spanish. Titles will be updated periodically throughout the summer. Publishing partners include HarperCollins Publishers, Little Bee Books, Lil’ Libros, Lee & Low Books, Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House, TOKYO POP, and Simon & Schuster. Additionally, the vending machines will include select books for adults as research shows that parents displaying reading behaviors can improve educational outcomes for children.
Vending machines are located at: La Casa de Don Pedro, 23 Broadway; The Leaguers, 200 W. South Orange Ave.; Newark Ironbound Recreation Center, 226 Rome St.; Springfield Branch Library, 50 Hayes St.; and Van Buren Branch Library, 140 Van Buren St.
Photos Courtesy of Newark