by Contributing Blogger Maytal Wichman
Teaching my children about the culture and values of Judaism has always been somewhat of a challenge for me, but is, nevertheless, one of my more important roles as a mom. I find that books can be a fun way to learn and what can be better than books that are free and shipped directly to your house? The PJ Library is an award-winning program for Jewish families available in the U.S and Canada that ships free books and CD’s to children on a monthly basis. It is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and is funded by philanthropists and local Jewish organizations, such as synagogues. It is not affiliated with any stream of Judaism; rather, it is about giving children the opportunity to explore core values of Judaism through books and music. It’s been around for seven years and is a huge success: Over 3 million books have been mailed so far! (Read more after the jump)
All families raising Jewish children from age six months through five, six, seven or eight years (depending on the community) can enroll. There is a limit of one book per family. Over the course of one year, each family will receive 11 books and one CD. After the year is over you can renew it, free of charge.
The books that are chosen for PJ Library feature compelling stories and high-quality, beautiful illustrations. They exemplify the best of Jewish children’s literature. Many of the books have won awards, such as the Caldecott Medal. The music CDs are sometimes tender and moving, sometimes fun and snappy. All books and CDs are carefully chosen by an expert book selection committee.
A reading guide is also included, usually in the flap of the books, sometimes as an insert. It provides information about the Jewish concepts relevant in the book and also suggests topics for discussion and activities aimed at enhancing the family reading experience.
The books are divided into eight categories, according to kids’ ages:
6 months-2 years
For the purpose of this review I received 4 books. All were just in time for Hanukkah:
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
This book is part of the Dinosaur books series and is a great way to teach your kids about behaving and being respectful.
Jermy’s Dreidel, by Ellie Gellman
This unique story is about a little boy who makes a dreidel with braille for a class project so that his father, who is blind, can read the letters. The book also includes some cute and very easy crafts for making different types of dreidels.
When Mindy saved Hanukkah by Eric A. Kimmel
This enchanting story is about a family of people the size of a pinkie and their courageous battle against a ferocious cat (they’re little, remember?) while trying to celebrate Hanukkah.
The Golem’s Latkes by Eric A. Kimmel
A similar concept to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, this book is about a golem who won’t stop making latkes! A delightful story that also has a very important lesson.
I enrolled in the program online. Signing up was a breeze and my first book will arrive in 6-8 weeks. I’m excited!
To enroll in the free program click here
Visit www.pjlibrary.org for more information about the program.
I was not compensated for this post. I received books from PJ Library for review.
Contributing Blogger Maytal Wichman is the owner of Mama’s Bites and has also written for The Huffington Post. She has been living in New York City for twelve years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree, but blogging is her true passion. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 5, 3 and a newborn) and loves finding great products that make her family’s life easier.