Sharing Our Stories: Niccolo
“Sometimes, we tell a single story about laundromats and the families that use them,” says Niccolo Roditti, Wash & Learn Durham storytime leader. But on Monday, Niccolo had an experience with two families that dispelled a common narrative that says low-income families don’t read to their kids.
When he arrived at The Wash House on Fayetteville Street, Niccolo was pleased to see a father and daughter he hadn’t met before. He introduced himself to them, inviting the five-year-old kindergartner to take a break from the movie she was watching on Dad’s phone and join him in reading and drawing. To Niccolo’s delight, both daughter and Dad joined him.
At that point, a second new family arrived: a mom with a kindergarten-aged boy and a one-year-old girl. It quickly became clear that both of these children, too, had excellent verbal skills, and Mom shared that they have lots of books at home and she reads to them all the time. While all the kids enjoyed storytime, Dad went next door to the convenience store and bought snacks for everyone, which they all shared while they read and drew and worked on literacy activities.
“This one-hour storytime not only solidified what the parents are already doing at home,” explained Niccolo, “but it also created a small community group right there in the laundromat.” One of the really important goals of Wash & Learn is parent engagement — and Monday’s storytime proved how valuable it is for this program to provide an opportunity for parents who are already very engaged to connect with each other and with Niccolo. Despite the common narrative about families who use laundromats, “every family is different, and you never know what to expect when you walk in each day,” explains Niccolo. “Wash & Learn is definitely not one-size-fits-all.”
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