How the Chicago Public Library Is Bringing Story Time to the Laundromat

iStock.com/SbytovaMN
iStock.com/SbytovaMN

Once a week, several of the self-service laundromats in underserved areas of Chicago are converted into makeshift libraries where children can read or listen to stories, sing songs, and play educational games. In a city where more than 60 percent of low-income households don’t own any children’s books, the “Laundromat Story Time” program is filling a void, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Ever since the Chicago Public Library launched the program in March 2018, it has become a routine in many families’ lives. It has also proven helpful to parents, who receive tips from librarians on how to replicate these reading habits at home and instill a love of reading in their children. One recent study revealed that people who grow up with books at home tend to have better reading comprehension skills as well as better mathematical and digital communication skills later in life.

But why hold story hour at a laundromat instead of a library, or perhaps at a coffee shop? Becca Ruidl, who runs the Laundromat Story Time program, told U.S. News & World Report the idea is to make the program as convenient and accessible as possible. Since everyone needs clean clothes, and kids often join their parents on jaunts to the nearest laundromat, it seemed like a smart place to start.

Libraries Without Borders, which co-sponsored the Chicago program along with the LaundryCares Foundation, has held similar “Wash and Learn” programs in other cities. Pop-up libraries have appeared at laundromats in New York and Detroit as well as in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and St. Paul, Minnesota.

“One thing that makes laundromats so unique is that you have a captive audience,” Adam Echelman of Libraries Without Borders told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when a laundromat program was hosted in the city last June. "We’re meeting families where they are. Instead of asking you to come to the library, we’re bringing these opportunities directly to you.”

[h/t U.S. News & World Report]

Charlotte Brontë's Final "Little Book" Returning to Haworth After $665,000 Auction Bid

Brontë Parsonage Museum, Crowdfunder
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Crowdfunder

Soon after his father gave him 12 toy soldiers as a gift, Branwell Brontë and the three Brontë sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—established an imaginary, miniature land called the Glass Town Federation where the soldiers could reign. To supplement their game, 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë wrote a series of six books beginning in 1830 called “The Young Men’s Magazine,” which she made tiny enough for the soldiers to “read.”

Four of the books are kept at the family’s former home, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, Yorkshire. A fifth volume has been lost since the 1930s. Now, after a lengthy fundraising endeavor, the Brontë Society has purchased the last remaining volume at a Paris auction. It’ll soon be displayed alongside the other issues in the museum.

It isn’t the first time the Brontë Society tried to bring the book back home. According to The New York Times, it surfaced at an auction in Sotheby’s in 2011, but the society was outbid by the Paris-based Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, which later folded after being accused of fraud.

The Guardian reports that upon hearing the item would soon be up for auction again, the Brontë Society launched a month-long public campaign to raise money for its purchase, with the public support of Dame Judi Dench, honorary president of the Brontë Society. They crowdfunded about $110,000, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund along with other organizations will cover the rest of the $777,000 cost (bid and fees included).

The 4000-word book measures about 1.5 inches by 2.5 inches and contains all the trappings of a quality literature magazine—ads, stories, and writerly wit. One ad, for example, was placed by “six young men” who “wish to let themselves all a hire for the purpose in cleaning out pockets they are in reduced CIRCUMSTANCES.” And one of the three original stories includes a scene similar to the one in Jane Eyre when Bertha sets Mr. Rochester’s bed on fire.

“Charlotte wrote this minuscule magazine for the toy soldiers she and her siblings played with, and as we walk through the same rooms they did, it seems immensely fitting that it is coming home,” Brontë Parsonage Museum principle curator Ann Dinsdale said in a statement.

[h/t The Guardian]

Can You Guess the Book by the Subtitle?

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