Courtesy of Queens Public Library
Elected officials join QPL president and CEO Dennis Walcott in front of a JetBlue Soar with Reading book vending machines.

Queens Public Library and Long Island City-based JetBlue kicked off a new reading literacy initiative with a special story time featuring award-winning children’s author David Ezra Stein of Kew Gardens at Central Library in Jamaica for children ages 3 to 5.

JetBlue this summer has joined forces with QPL and other NYC nonprofits to place free book vending machines in areas across the five boroughs where young readers have limited options to purchase age-appropriate books.

QPL president and CEO Dennis M. Walcott joined several JetBlue executives, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman celebrated the launch of the airline’s popular “Soar with Reading” literacy program.

“While we welcome everyone to come to one of our libraries and take out books and other materials for free, we are excited to provide opportunities for children and adults to have their own libraries at home,” Walcott said. “We are grateful to JetBlue for choosing Queens Public Library as one of its Soar with Reading program partners in New York City and for helping us ensure that kids continue to build their reading skills during the summer months.”

JetBlue has placed its innovative machines at six sites throughout the five boroughs with two in Queens, one at Central Library and the other in the Rockaways. Since its installation at the library on July 11, the machine has dispensed more than 4,000 books. All six machines will be restocked every two weeks with new titles for children and adults in both English and Spanish.

Publishing partners include HarperCollins, Little Bee Books, Lil’ Libros, Scholastic, Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House, Hachette Books and Barefoot Books.

JetBlue has donated more than $3.5 million in books to kids who need them most.

“We’re excited to bring our Soar with Reading program to our hometown this summer. Thanks to partners such as Queens Public Library, we’re making an impact right in our own backyard and sparking a lifelong love or reading for our youngest neighbors,” JetBlue Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Icema Gibbs said. “It was important for us to focus this summer’s efforts on the city and boroughs that made us who we are. Queens is our home. We hope our free book vending machines in Jamaica and the Rockaways will help improve book access in areas that need it most. E not only work here, we live here too.”

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