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  • Sherri Nordyke

Laundromats for Literacy? How One Program Combines Suds & Stories


Forget about the spin cycle. The Too Small to Fail program is bringing the smart cycle to laundromats across the country. In an effort to educate the littlest of learners, this amazing organization is bringing story-time directly to the children who need literacy lessons the most.

Laundromat to library? With Too Small to Fail that’s exactly what some neighborhoods are seeing. Instead of zoning out to the hum of industrial dryers, children in the areas served by this program get the chance to participate in story-times led by local librarians. And all while mom or dad gets a wash cycle in!

Not only is idea genius, but it actually works too. Preliminary research on the program conducted in six New York laundromats found a positive educational effect. Researcher Susan Neuman, a professor of Childhood Education and Literacy Development at New York University told Education Week, “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.”

Too Small to Fail’s story-time laundromat program is a simple solution to this problem. As Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association, points out, “We have the right audience … parents and kids who need the most help when it comes to literacy and access to books.” Wallace also added, “Rather than watch the socks tumble … use that time and make it more productive.”


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