It’s an unfortunate reality that not all children have the same access to education. This creates a learning gap among students, especially when it comes to early literacy. Which is why a local New York laundromat is teaming up with librarians and nonprofit organizations to bring reading back into the lives of the kids who need it most.
The Giant Wash laundromat in Brooklyn, N.Y. is a busy place to be on the weekends. Families often fill up the establishment as parents wash and dry clothes for the following week.
While the adults are busy with laundry, kids are sitting on a rug listening to a local librarian read. This special storytime is part of an initiative to improve early childhood literacy in lower income areas by bringing books to unusual but frequented locations like the laundromat.
Librarians, early-literacy groups, and laundromat owners are teaming up to offer reading and educational activities to young children who come with their parents on errands.
Brooklyn librarian Samantha Owen says she has one simple goal, ” “I want the kids to have fun and be really engaged with story time.”
NYU researchers conducted a preliminary study of six New York laundromats that are participating in the literacy program and discovered a significant increase in educational activities.
Researcher Susan Neuman, a professor of Childhood Education and Literacy Development at New York University, says early literacy is a vital component to a child’s education.
“The problem with early literacy for so many of our children is they are not successful when they come to kindergarten and subsequently will not catch up fast enough by 3rd grade,” Neuman said.
The New York effort is supported by Libraries Without Borders, the Clinton Foundation’s “Too Small to Fail” program, and the laundromat industry. Their goal is to expand the initiative to thousands of locations worldwide.
“We have the right audience … parents and kids who need the most help when it comes to literacy and access to books,” says Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association. “Rather than watch the socks tumble … use that time and make it more productive.”
h/t Education Week