Early Literacy in Everyday Settings: Creating an Opportunity to Learn for Low-income Young Children

Susan B. Neuman, Jillian Knapczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Persistent concerns about income and social inequality have raised questions about how to address opportunity gaps in access to literacy learning for low-income young children. Recognizing the need to strengthen learning opportunities, this study examines how specially designed hybrid spaces within the ‘everyday’ place of a neighborhood laundromat might support children’s literacy development. Twenty laundromats in high-poverty neighborhoods from a large urban city participated in the research: 10 in which small spaces were reconfigured to create literacy-related play settings; 10, in which remained “business as usual” control sites. Conducted over two phases, the 7-month study examined changes in children’s literacy activities resulting from the physical design changes alone, and subsequent changes when combined with a trusted messenger, a public librarian, who assisted in their activities. Results indicated that these hybrid spaces dramatically increased children’s time on literacy-related activities, especially when given adult assistance, averaging 47-minutes per child of sustained activity. These results suggest that intentionally-designed everyday spaces may play an important role in increasing young children’s access to resources and opportunity to learn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1186
Number of pages20
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • motivation/engagement
  • oral language
  • theoretical perspectices
  • vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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