Little squeals of excitement and the sounds of envelopes ripping open happen every month when the gift of a PJ Library book comes to over 1,900 children in Metropolitan Detroit. Parents and children snuggle together to read books and explore Jewish thoughts, values and holidays. While this in itself is exciting, what happens beyond the books is transforming lives. In honor of March being National Reading month, we share these stories with you.

Tea for Two

Brooke Miller, owner of Honey Space Moms and mom extraordinaire to two beautiful little girls, shared a story about her father-in-law, who received the book Tea with Zaydie from PJ Library. What he did next can best be shared in Brooke’s own words from Facebook.

“Soooo, my father in law, who is VERY quiet and unassuming, surprised my girls this morning with a FREAKIN’ TEA PARTY! He set it up before he left for work, and included the PJ book, Tea with Zayde. 12 years of knowing this man and 13 hours after said tea party, and I’m still in shock beyond words!!! Thank you, PJ!!”

A real, live tea with Zaydie, to Brooke Miller's utter surprise

A real, live tea with Zaydie, to Brooke Miller’s utter surprise

PJ Library: Creating Early Readers

Judy Loebl, Director of Adult Jewish Learning for the Jewish Federation, knew her granddaughter Gigi loves receiving her PJ Library books and having them read to her. During her visits to Denver, Judy spends time reading to Gigi, something they both love. So imagine her surprise when she received a video from her daughter Naomi showing 2½ year old Gigi “reading”… to her dog! From holding up the PJ Library book How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Hanukkah to retelling the story to her dog Annie (yes, her dog!) and making sure Annie was attentive, Gigi brought joy to her parents and Bubby!

One Stitch at a Time

“Keeping keppies warm is our mitzvah,” Mrs. Goldman tells her, explaining that a “keppie” (Yiddish) is a head and a “mitzvah” (Hebrew) is a good deed.” – from A Hat for Mrs. Goldman

A Hat for Mrs. GoldmanMrs. Goldman, a teacher at Farber Day School’s Early Childhood Center, is a passionate knitter. Whenever a fellow teacher has a baby, Mrs. Goldberg knits a hat as her gift. Over the years, there have been many handmade hats, and the gift has become a longtime tradition. Yet who knew that, when the PJ Library book, A Hat for Mrs. Goldman arrived in homes in January, it would spark such surprise and delight? Students came running up to Mrs. Goldman, sharing the book that was written “about her!”  (It wasn’t – just a lovely coincidence!)

Coming Home

“Wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish!  And wherever you go, there’s PJ Library!” 

We hear it over and over:  “We just moved to Detroit with my family from (fill in the blank) and want to be sure to stay a part of PJ Library.” These two stories go one step further.

Natalie Friedman, a born-and-bred Detroit girl, followed her path to Chicago for work. She became active in the Jewish Federation there, met her beshert (soul mate), Jaron, and got married. Their lives took them to warm, sunny California, where their family expanded with the birth of their daughter Madison. Natalie received a call from Yaira, a local PJ Library Ambassador, inviting her to come to a gathering – and sharing that if she didn’t come or couldn’t call back because she was taking care of the baby, that it was fine. Their friendship grew, and a few months later, when the Friedman family’s journey brought them to Detroit, Yaira suggested that perhaps there would be an opening for a PJ Library Ambassador in Detroit.” Natalie’s disbelief came when she found out that the Detroit community actually was looking for someone special to fill that role – and the match was made!

Emily Morgan grew up a Midwest girl in Grand Rapids, moving to Chicago for work after completing college. One particularly cold winter persuaded Emily and her husband Michael to leave the chill and move south to Austin, Texas. There they enjoyed the warm weather and delicious BBQ, as well as expanding their family with the birth of their daughter Lily. Lily began to receive her PJ Library books – and her family connected with others at PJ Library events. Five years ago, the Morgan family moved back to Detroit, where their family grew with the birth of Benjamin. With her desire to stay connected with other Jewish families, Emily joined the PJ Library Committee at the Jewish Federation. At one meeting, a discussion took place about the opportunity to hire a PJ Library Parent Ambassador – and Emily spent the meeting thinking to herself “That’s me!”.  And right she was.

Want to connect with our PJ Library Parent Ambassadors?  You can reach  them via email: Natalie at  nfriedman@jfmd.org  and Emily at morgan@jfmd.org  To sign up for PJ Library visit online. Have older children? Here’s your link for  PJ Our Way

Looking for Jewish children’s books from local authors?  Here are a few we know:

Smulik Paints the Town, Lisa Rose

Moshe and Asa, Darcee Hope Matlin

Our Family Treasure, Howard Fridson

Lazar, the Good Deed Dog, Myrna Gelman Shanker

The Animals Great Football Game, Dr. Jeff London

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