‘Literacy at the Laundromat’ project expands to West Chicago

Feb 08 2021

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On Wednesday, February 3rd, SCARCE team members along with DuPage County board member and environmental committee chair Sheila Rutledge delivered bookshelves stocked with books to three West Chicago laundromats as part of the Literacy at the Laundromat project. Kay McKeen, Jean Kent, and Olivia Ryan of SCARCE and Sheila Rutledge visited Three Kings Laundromat (285 E Roosevelt Rd), Wilson Street Wash (329 Wilson Ave), and Smart Wash Laundry (149 N Neltnor Blvd) with over 250 books in tow.

The Literacy at the Laundromat project is part of a movement to provide reading opportunities to children that may otherwise lack access to them at home. Promotion of early literacy is crucial to children’s future success in school, and having books in the home is a large component of that. Spending an average of 2-2.5 hours at the laundromat with their parents, children have few options to entertain themselves, so why not provide some books? Through this project, children can read while waiting for their laundry and are encouraged to take a book home to keep. SCARCE first got started with Literacy at the Laundromat in Addison in 2018.

So how did this all come together?

First, find the laundromats. SCARCE interns Olivia Ryan and Audrey Kamal found all the laundromats in West Chicago and made calls to see who would like to participate. With the help of West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda, three laundromat owners enthusiastically agreed to the project. Second, the books. SCARCE receives thousands of donated books per week, a portion of which are set aside for this project. We were also able to purchase beautiful new books in English and Spanish through a generous grant from Love Like Lija. Third, the bookshelves. The three bookshelves were donated to SCARCE and repainted by our intern Olivia. Fourth, the signs. Literacy at the Laundromat in Addison, IL had partnered with Talking is Teaching, an organization that creates resources to promote early childhood literacy. Through them, we were able to print off signs with fun games in English and Spanish to hang around the laundromats, which encourages children to count, talk, and read with their parents.

Over the course of several months this project came together, and we look forward to providing children with books to create a home library through Literacy at the Laundromat. Thank you to all participating laundromats and organizations!

If you would like to help spread this project to other cities in DuPage County, please contact [email protected] with subject line ‘Literacy at the Laundromat.’ We are in need of small bookcases (so they won’t tip over), children’s books in English and Spanish, and volunteers to check in and restock books at the laundromats. 

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