Battling illiteracy is a family affair for Ready Readers’ Jayne Langsam


Jayne Langsam (L) and Rebecca Langsam (R).

Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

In the battle against poverty and illiteracy, Wednesday, Feb. 1st is a special day. That’s because it’s World Read Aloud Day, when attention to the importance of sharing stories is highlighted by challenging participants to grab a book, find an audience, and read aloud.

For Jayne Langsam, the director of development at Ready Readers, the day is symbolic of the work she and her team does to help break the cycle of illiteracy in underserved populations around St. Louis. It’s also work that has become part of her family’s lives as well.

What is Ready Readers?

Founded in 1997, Ready Readers works to expand literacy for young children in low-income communities by providing high-quality books, strong relationships and literacy-related experiences. In those 25 years, the program has trained and supervised more than 550 volunteers who read weekly to more than 10,000 preschool-age children at 179 early childhood centers in the St. Louis area. In addition, Ready Readers has distributed more than 600,000 new books to foster reading at home.

“The books we send to homes are carefully selected to include diverse characters and subjects, representative of the children and communities we serve, so there’s something appealing for each young learner,” said Langsam.


Jayne Langsam

After leaving Developmental Child Care (a daycare center) as director of operations, Langsam, 61 and a member of Congregation Temple Israel, became an active volunteer.

“I volunteered both in the Ladue schools and the Jewish community.  As my children got older, I missed children’s literature and decided to volunteer as a Ready Reader,” said Langsam.  “I loved going to the library to check out children’s literature. I loved sharing the joy and power of literacy with children in low-income areas.”

The value of equity is something that Langsam says was passed down over generations; from her parents to her and from her to her two daughters, Jessica, 31, and Rebecca, 28.

“I am a proud mother of two proactive, dedicated children who are passionate about equity,” Langsam said.  “Jessica works with preschoolers at Vose Elementary in Portland, Oregon.  It’s a neighborhood school with a dual language program, and there she works with parents daily to improve their children’s skills in an environment that supports creativity, inquiry and open-mindedness.”

Daughter Rebecca works as a public defender in St. Louis County. She and her coworkers have agreed to be team leaders for Ready Readers’ online campaign “The Power of 24 Hours.”

“We are public defenders in the St. Louis area who believe in equal access to justice and literacy. If you cannot afford an attorney the Constitution provides the right to one, but there is not yet a constitutional right to literacy and equal access. Until then it is a pleasure to support Ready Readers to help close the gap,” said Rebecca Langsam.

How you can help

To mark “World Read Aloud Day,” you’re invited to get involved. “The Power of 24 hours” is a time for everyone to experience first-hand the joy Ready Readers shares with thousands of young children. And, every dollar gift you donate to Ready Readers is quadrupled.

Every dollar will be matched by our generous sponsors to help us reach our goal of $220,000,” said Langsam.

Click here to donate or for more information.