What Happens When a Librarian Walks into A Laundromat?

There is so much to do as a parent! You’re working while balancing parenthood and it can be a lot, especially for single parents or parents that work multiple jobs. Some days just getting kids through the day fed, safe and happy is a major triumph. Trips to the library to encourage literacy and love of learning and reading while wanted, sometimes fall to the bottom of the priority list. Lucky for some parents in NYC, a little kindness is working its magic.

As reported by PBS, “…the first five years of a child’s life are critical for language exposure, but studies suggest children in lower-income families often don’t experience the rich literary environment wealthier kids do. A New York City initiative trying to close that gap encourages reading in a spot families visit every week — but don’t usually consider educational.”

The Too Small to Fail Initiative, NYU’s Laundry Literacy Coalition, Libraries Without Borders and the laundromat industry have become partners in kindness. They are bringing librarians and reading centers to the laundromat! So, while parents do laundry, kids can participate in story time or independent reading time. Even if a formal story time isn’t happening, children can read books or participate in other literacy activities. Now that’s some k-i-n-d- kindness!

PBS spoke to Brian Wallace, who oversees the Coin Laundry Association and its foundation. He said, “’You know, folks are here for an hour-and-a-half or two hours. So, there’s time to add those interactions. And there’s also a recurring element. Chances are the folks that are here this Saturday morning will be here next Saturday morning and the Saturday morning after.’”

“Studies suggest students who read well by the end of third grade are more likely to succeed in high school and in their careers,” reports Lisa Stark from PBS. This makes these reading centers a powerful kind tool that will last throughout a child’s lifetime. As parents take care of a basic need – providing clean clothes – they can also prepare their children with strong literacy skills and the knowledge that will set them up for future success.

Do you want to help bring reading centers to laundromats? Check out the Laundry Literacy Coalition! Did you have a favorite reading nook or special spot as a kid?

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