Read & Play: Laundromats and Literacy


"This is the way we wash our clothes so early in the morning..."

Singing while doing chores not only makes them more fun, it can help children develop important early literacy skills that will help them learn to read.

Now a laundromat in Brooklyn is offering families a chance to sing songs and read books while their wash is spinning.

During June, Brooklyn Public Library children's librarians conducted regular Sunday storytimes at Giant Wash on Rockaway Avenue in Brownsville as part of a groundbreaking initiative entitled Wash Time is Talk Time.

Created by Too Small to Fail, an early literacy arm of the Clinton Foundation and the Coin Laundry Association, Wash Time is Talk Time has already provided literacy outreach materials to some 13,000 laundromats across the United States. The goal: Alert parents and caregivers to the opportunity to create meaningful literacy interactions with their children while doing the laundry.

Now they have created children's spaces to host story times at laundromats like Giant Wash with books, learning toys, and furniture to encourage families to talk, sing, read, write, and play together. There are plans underway to open 600 new read and play spaces nationwide.

(Photo below courtesy of Too Small To Fail).  

"A lot of people don't have time to get into the library during the week, but a lot of people spend a few hours at the laundromat," said Kristen Higgins, a BPL children's librarian who has hosted story time at Giant Wash and says children often don't want to leave after the wash is done.

BPL is working with its staff and the Coin Laundry Association of America to expand this service to more laundromats across Brooklyn next fall.

Watch a PBS News Hour piece about this exciting endeavor here

Every Saturday, Brooklyn Public Library hosts Saturday Story Time for families. Click here to find a location near you. 


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


Mary Landrum

I'm a children's librarian in Lexington, Kentucky. I'd like to try this in my branch's neighborhood. How often do BPL children's librarians lead storytimes at laundromats? Thank you.
Sat, Jul 6 2019 5:24 pm Permalink

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