South River—PJ Library is the extraordinarily successful partnership between the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and local partners like the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey that mails free, expertly selected, age-appropriate Jewish children’s literature and music to families across the continent.
Currently, there are more than 1,600 Jewish families living in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties who participate in PJ Library. Every family is invited to join the program.
When families sign up for PJ Library, their children between the ages of 6 months and 11 years receive a pretty blue and white wrapped package with their new book every month—for free!
Research proves that something important happens between children and parents when they read together. Exploring life-changing history, life-affirming traditions and life-expanding perspective through shared reading and discussion helps build strong family bonds, increases resiliency and confidence for all family members and encourages development of cherished family values and commitment to community.
Linda Silver, of the Association of Jewish Libraries, says this about the impact of family reading time:
“Considering the differences in observance and practice that exist among American Jews, there’s no guarantee that every Jewish child will have values-rich experiences...By the very act of reading—which involves engagement with the shape and movement of the story; feelings of empathy for the characters; identification with the story’s characters, setting or action; fascination with the pictures and other graphic elements—children become active participants in the creation of meaning that comes with reading.”
PJ Library titles range from fantastic escapades like “The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West,” to true-to-life tales such as “All Kinds of Strong,” a story about Sadie Rose, a young girl who proves that strength is more than just physical ability. Titles are chosen carefully to represent the broad spectrum of Jewish families and many have won prestigious awards, from the Caldecott Medal to the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Several were finalists for the National Jewish Book Award.
In addition to encouraging families to sign up for free books and music, The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey offers a series of free and low-cost children’s events with a Jewish twist to help connect children and families to Jewish life in the community. Organized almost entirely by volunteers, these pop-up events are opportunities for children to build friendships with peers as they explore story themes and characters together.
PJ Library currently delivers 167,197 books each month and has dramatically expanded its programs and services since it was founded. For more information about PJ Library, go to www.pjlibrary.org. For information about PJ Parents Pop-Up Play Dates and other PJ Library family-friendly activities, contact [email protected]
The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey (JFHNJ), serving Monmouth and Greater Middlesex counties, brings together people, partners and resources to fill pressing needs in Jewish life locally and worldwide. Through an array of impactful educational, cultural and service events and programs, JFHNJ cares for the vulnerable, inspires the next generation to embrace Jewish life, forges strong connections with Israel and overseas and enhances access to a vibrant community.
Jewish Federation convenes and empowers partner organizations to deliver strategic programs, services and solutions that meet the pressing needs in Jewish life. Partners include social service agencies, synagogues, schools, cultural institutions and more.
For more information, visit: www.jewishheartnj.org.