“Amit, you’ve got mail.”
“These are magic words to my 7-year-old,” says Lisa Soble Siegmann, Federation Alliance “Mom” and Associate Director for Jewish Education for Families (JEFF). “When that big white envelope arrives, marked in extra-bold letters with my son’s name, he stops in his tracks, drops whatever he’s doing, mid-game, mid-song, mid-squeal, mid-squabble with his big sister. No matter when that package arrives, suddenly it’s PJ Library Time, time to read.”
A special delivery
For Amit along with hundreds of families in Jewish Detroit with children between the ages of 6 months and 9 years, every month marks the arrival of a new book – a free book from the PJ Library. Chosen for their enduring and endearing Jewish content, these are the books where pages will be turned and turned, read and reread, over and over again. These are the books that bring moms, dads – and grandparents, too – together for “cuddle-time,” bedtime, quiet time, free time, any time.
And did we mention free?
The books are free. With no strings attached. This is the magic of the PJ Library.
Conceived as a giving library, the PJ Library (that’s PJ as in pajamas) is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. With the goal to provide young families a treasure trove of Jewish books and CD’s, Harold launched the PJ Library seven years ago in Massachusetts and satellite cities around the nation. Through the PJ Library, the Grinspoon Foundation now works in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit to reach out to Jewish families with young children to help strengthen their Jewish ties to the community and to foster young children’s curiosity about their Jewish heritage and identity.
The gift of reading and music
PJ Library books, CD’s and parental guidance materials are selected with care by a team of children’s literature, music and education experts. To accompany the gift of books and music, families also receive parenting guides and reading materials to enhance their PJ Library experience.
One to grow on
Through the generosity of the Applebaum Family Foundation, PJ Library was able to grow to 1,200 families in its first five years. Now, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor, the program has secured the funding to expand over the next two years to serve an additional 800 children for the first year and 1,000 more after that – for a total of 3,000 children in metro Detroit!
Spread the word, spread the cheer
What better time than Hanukkah to start a PJ Library bookshelf for a child you love? If you have yet to sign up, please enroll now at pjlibrary.org. PJ Library family and friends can also spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.
The PJ Library gift goes out once a month, delivered to the child’s primary address. In the packet, families also receive the PJ Newsletter, filled with great ideas and Jewish programming all over our community. And now, families should be on the lookout for future community-wide PJ Library programs all over Metro Detroit!
Talkin’ PJ Library, here’s what parents have to say
“Incredible! Whenever a holiday or life cycle event comes around, we have a number of books on our shelf to read with our children to enhance their Jewish learning. Our boys look forward to opening the PJ Library package when it comes in the mail and whatever is inside is shared together that first day.” – Rebecca E. Starr, M.S.W., BA Ed.
“As a first-time mom, I am thrilled that this program exists for my son, and that he’ll begin to receive books that will help him develop and grow to love his Jewish identity.” – Jessica Goodwin
“My daughter is Jewish and my son-in-law is Christian. With their permission, I enrolled their 6-year-old twin daughters in the PJ Library Program. The girls get so excited when a new book arrives and they read it over and over. Best of all, these wonderful books have sparked my granddaughters’ interest in Judaism.” – Sincerely, Grateful Grandma
“I just wanted to say thank you! My daughter waits anxiously each month to get her book! We were just notified that she’s been extended for another year! It’s hard during these economic times to find the extra money for books. My daughter will talk about the books months after they’ve arrived. You’ve made a cute little six year old (and her Mommy) very happy. Tizku L’Mitzvot! “ -Eva Feuerstein & Aleeza
“Thanks to the PJ Library. It’s hard to find a good selection of Jewish books at bookstores and libraries, and I feel like these books are helping my eldest (who is almost 3) develop a Jewish identity and vocabulary. Thanks!” -Liz
“Hello PJ Library! Thank you for all the wonderful books you send my daughter! Both of us love reading them but, by far, her favorite is the Shabbat Story Book.” -Suanne Zager (Jadyn Zager’s mom!)
“I just wanted you to know how excited my daughter is to receive her books in the mail. She absolutely loves them. I also work at Temple Emanu-El Early Childhood Center and I know many of the children who come there are receiving books. What a wonderful program.” – Shari Bills
“I LOVE the idea behind this program. This is one of the easiest ways for me as a mother of two small children to incorporate religion and culture into our daily lives” – Jill Mann
“My daughter Hadley absolutely loves receiving a book each month and is so excited to open the package when it arrives. It is important for us to develop a library of Jewish books for her so that she grows up with a Jewish identity”. -Eric Globerman
Note to Harold Grinspoon
Dear Mr. Grinspoon,
Enclosed is my three-year-old son’s drawing of gefiltes, which he drew because he loves the book Five Little Gefiltes by Dave Horowitz. Since the day he received this book, we have read it nightly before bed. By now, he sings the book to me every night.
The PJ Library program started when our second oldest son was around five years old. He was the proud recipient of many books by the time he turned six, so he and our oldest son, who is now eleven, have an outstanding Jewish library in their bedroom.
Thank you for all you have done to increase the knowledge and enjoyment of Jewish books.Your extraordinary generosity is a mitzvah that will extend for years to come.
Yours truly, Karen Gordon Rosenberg
Sample of Books and Music Available Through the PJ Library
The Opposites of My Jewish Year by L.N. Dion
Let’s Nosh by Amy Wilson Sanger
Let’s Visit Israel by Judye Groner
The Peace Book by Todd Parr
Happy Birthday World by Latifa Berry Kropf
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
To Everything by Bob Barner
Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman
It Could Always Be Worse by Phoebe Gilman
Dinosaur on Passover by Diane Levin Rauchwerger
Noah’s Bed by Lis and Jim Coplestone
Chicken Soup by Heart by Esther Hershenhorn
The Matzo Ball Boy by Lisa Shulman
Why Noah Chose the Dove by I.B. Singer
The Keeping Quilt By Patricia Polacco
A Sack Full of Feathers by Debby Waldman
ShirLaLa Chanukah by Shira Klein
Everybody’s Got a Little Music by Rabbi Joe Black
My Newish Jewish Discovery by Craig Taubman