PJ Library Sends Kids Jewish-Themed Books


By Christopher Haugh | San Francisco Chronicle

AS THE JEWISH HOLIDAY of Passover is celebrated around the world, one organization is making sure that the United States' next generation of Jewish children doesn't lose track of its cultural heritage.

Each month thousands of children receive free books in the mail from the nonprofit PJ Library, a national organization devoted to preserving Jewish traditions. With titles like "Hoppy Passover!," "The Yankee at the Seder" and "The Peace Book," PJ Library's 268 books include both religious and secular themes.

Available to children 6 months to 8 years old, the PJ Library sends books to anyone who signs up for the service. Since its inception, the library has mailed nearly 3 million books.

"We provide a low-barrier way to have access to a great Jewish education," PJ Library's Janet Harris said of the program, which serves 3,800 children in the Bay Area each month.

As Harris describes, there is no better way to reach children than storybooks. PJ Library uses the childhood tradition of the bedtime story to reach children who might otherwise lose a sense of their heritage.

Started in 2005 by real estate tycoon Harold Grinspoon, the organization is thriving. Originally serving 200 families, the PJ Library has grown exponentially, sending out nearly 100,000 books across the country each month.

"What better gift could there be for the People of the Book than a collection of compelling books that transmit the long-standing values of our tradition?" PJ Library Director Marcie Greenfield Simons said in a press release. "It promotes literacy, stimulates curiosity, and inspires meaningful conversations between parents and children."

Self-described as "the little-nonprofit-that-could," the PJ Library is working hard to preserve Jewish culture for the next generation, one book at a time.