Seven-year-old Iyana George loves to read, but in her southeast Washington, D.C., neighborhood, finding books is not so easy.
A recent study commissioned by JetBlue found that, in this neighborhood, there’s just one age-appropriate book for sale for every 830 children.
Despite that, Iyana has managed to amass quite the book collection. She tells ABC News that she got her books “from the vending machine.”
As part of JetBlue’s “Soar With Reading” initiative, three book vending machines were placed at three different locations around the Anacostia neighborhood in July. The machines dispense kids' books for free.
The program has donated 16,000 books in the community, and has committed to giving out 84,000 more.
The program has many fans at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church.
“We're reading books that are in the vending machine, so now they can take that book home and read it over and over again … and it's just wonderful,” Shelley Hudson, the church’s first lady, said.
Literacy experts say that owning the books can inspire children to read more.
While the vending machines are in the neighborhood temporarily, JetBlue hopes its experiment will inspire local business to start selling more children’s books.
“I know we're making an impact in the community,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of social responsibility.
JetBlue is in the process of selecting the next community for its book vending machines.