Emily Langevin is a mother, educator, literacy coach, and avid reader. Drawing from all these roles, she recently created “Raising Young Readers,” a literacy initiative fueled by her passion for reading. The project’s goal is to cultivate and nurture the love of reading in kids. “Literacy burns a fire deep inside me and I want to pass the flame along from my home to yours,” she explains.
Raising Young Readers provides “literacy boxes” which Langevin compiles for children. The idea was inspired by “sensory bins” which were helpful teaching tools when she was teaching pre-kindergarten-aged kids. Sensory bins engage children in learning through hands-on tactile play, and Langevin has put her own spin on them by incorporating a literacy component.
Customers can choose from a variety of themes or request a personalized theme, and each box contains several books, a discussion card with questions about the books, and a craft. It can be difficult for kids to stay focused on books, so Langevin carefully curates each box to engage them and get them excited about learning through theme, activity, craft, and discussion questions. All components build literacy skills and increase exposure to print and literature, and they help children see that literacy is all around them in their daily lives.
Stacy Jamieson describes her kids’ reaction to the boxes: “Both kids loved the books that were included, [which have] become regulars in our daily reading.” She says the boxes were so well-received that she has suggested them as Christmas presents.
Langevin is brainstorming what to include in holiday boxes; themes have included Halloween, farming, and ABCs. The books thus far have been new, but book donations are always welcome and Langevin says she plans to include a purchase option for extra used books to be added to boxes. She finds that just sorting through donations sparks a flood of new ideas for themes and activities. She loves the idea of recirculating gently used books and giving them a new life. She is also planning to broaden the scope of Raising Young Readers by creating a reading journal for kids and offering individual literacy coaching services.
The Raising Young Readers social media pages provide literacy and teaching tips for parents. “It’s starting that conversation amongst everyone and being able to share with one another,” explains Langevin. The pages provide a community where parents can interact with the content as well as each other; she adds that often the interactions she observes online give her ideas for boxes.
Langevin has a bachelor’s degree in education from McGill University, and a master’s degree from the University of Ottawa in education: cultures, languages and societies, with a concentration in literacy. She has been a teacher with the New Frontiers School Board since 2013 and was a literacy coach at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School. The goal of her new project is to give back, using the knowledge she has accumulated from her education, and from her teaching and parenting experience.
Meagan Jackson, who purchased a Raising Young Readers box for her son, says reading was already very important to their family, but “These reading boxes take literacy to a whole new level … [they] take the guesswork out of everything for parents. It’s so simple and easy to follow and allows my toddler and [me] to expand our shared love for reading.” And that is the intention: to provide parents a resource where all the materials and questions are assembled, so they don’t have to worry about the preparation work and can just enjoy the experience with their children. As witnessed with her own daughter, Kennedy, Langevin says; “You can [also] expect your kids to give you ideas. When you have the books and the materials from the box, your kid will take over for you with their imagination.”
As a lifelong passionate reader, Langevin says reading “is therapeutic. It’s like a refuge … if I’m having a hard time with something, if I’m too stressed, I know that books are always there, and they help me come back to myself.” Raising Young Readers is a passion project that guides parents and kids so that books can become a refuge for them, too. For more information, visit: www.raisingyoungreaders.ca.