The laundromat isn’t exactly known for being a fun place, especially if you’re a kid waiting around for your parents to finish. In that situation, a child is more likely to turn to an iPad game than a book. But in New York, the laundromat is becoming a rich center of learning for children instead.
Literacy groups, librarians, and laundromat owners have combined forces to bring books and storytime to several New York laundromats. The program is part of a nationwide initiative to improve early childhood literacy. The literacy gap between low-income and high-income students is significant, and if kids can’t read fluently by the third grade, they often have a lot of difficulty in later years.
“We have the right audience… Parents and kids who need the most help when it comes to literacy and access to books,” Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association, explained to Education Week.
“Rather than watch the socks tumble… use that time and make it more productive.”
Already, the program has shown major benefits. A preliminary study of six laundromats showed that kids participate in reading and educational activities much more when there’s a reading area available.
These programs benefit the kids’ caregivers, too. They can focus on their chores while their children are entertained and productive.
Brooklyn librarian Samantha Owen says her goal is simple.
“I want the kids to have fun and be really engaged with story time,” she said.
Don’t we all?