On the Shelf
Being 3 years old with PJ Library

The PJ Library Book Selection Committee asks a lot of questions. Each month, the committee gathers to review a collection of books – both published and forthcoming – that will arrive in mailboxes a year after they’re chosen. Books must meet multiple quality and content benchmarks (Are we offering enough content on Jewish holidays? Values? History? Are we providing titles that show not just geographic and ethnic diversity, but also a diversity of Jewish practice?), but they also have to fit with the other books families receive (Too many folk tales? Not enough contemporary stories? Has this age received any Sephardi tales, or has it been mostly Ashkenazi?).

And then, of course, there’s the overriding question: Is this book good? Will it sit on a bookshelf gathering dust, or will a family read it again and again (and again)? It’s a tricky balance to strike, but we love the challenge. Here’s a look at how the Book Selection Committee made PJ Library an exciting experience for 3-year-olds and their families from August 2018 through August 2019.

All the world

August 2018

All the World
Written by Liz Garton Scanlon
Illustrated by Marla Frazee

This sweet title is illustrated by Marla Frazee, who not only won the Caldecott Award but also created the Boss Baby series that inspired the 2017 animated movie!

Engineer ari and the sukkah express

September 2018

Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express
Written by Deborah Bodin Cohen
Illustrated by Shahar Kober

There aren’t that many books about the holiday of Sukkot – and even fewer that combine that holiday with the perennial toddler favorite: trains!

something from nothing

October 2018

Something from Nothing
Written and Illustrated
by Phoebe Gilman

This title was one of the very first books PJ Library sent out. We still love this sweet interpretation of a classic Jewish tale, and we’re excited to send it again to a new generation of PJ Library families.

Hanukkah book cover

November 2018

Written by Roni Schotter
Illustrated by Marylin Hafner

Roni Schotter, author of this lovely portrayal of a classic Hanukkah, also wrote the PJ Library books Passover Magic and Purim Play.

Toot the Horn cover

December 2018

Toot the Horn!

Families received CDs for the last time this December. For Jewish kids’ music visit pjlibraryradio.com or download the PJ Library Radio app!

Happy Birhday, Tree!

January 2019

Happy Birthday, Tree!
Written by Madelyn Rosenberg
Illustrated by Jana Christy

From board books all the way up to middle-grade books, Sydney Taylor Award-winner Madelyn Rosenberg crosses all ages of PJ Library kids.

Saturdays are special book cover

February 2019

Saturdays Are Special
Written by Chris Barash
Illustrated by Abigail Marble

PJ Library has many, many books on Shabbat (and we can always use more!), but relatively few about Havdalah. This sweet story illustrates why the end of Shabbat is just as meaningful as the start.

Pippa's passover plate book cover

March 2019

Pippa’s Passover Plate
Written by Vivian Kirkfield
Illustrated by Jill Weber

Every March, we try to send Passover books to each age group. This new title is not only a Passover book, but also a values book, highlighting the importance of ometz lev: courage.

it's a mitzvah grover book cover

April 2019

It’s a Mitzvah, Grover
Written by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer
Illustrated by Tom Leigh

Kids will love seeing one of their favorite Sesame Street characters in a Jewish context…and parents will love introducing their children to the concept of mitzvot.

fast asleep in a little village in Israel book cover

May 2019

Fast Asleep in a Little Village in Israel
Written by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod
Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Cucuricu! That’s Hebrew for “cock-a-doodle-doo.” This ambient slice of Israeli life provides readers a window into what things are like half a world away.

I love camp book cover

June 2019

I Love Camp!
Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr

You might recognize artist Todd Parr’s distinctive style from the PJ Library tzedakah box – hundreds of thousands of tzedakah boxes have been sent so far, with more going to new PJ Library families every December.

The little, Little house book cover

July 2019

The Little, Little House
Written and illustrated by Jessica Souhami

Certain folktales are so good, they appear in our lineup again and again. Readers might also recognize this story in A Big Quiet House, Terrible, Terrible! and It Could Always Be Worse.

oh no george book cover

August 2019

Oh No, George!
Written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

This sweet tale about a dog who gets in trouble was also translated into Hebrew for PJ Library’s sister program in Israel, Sifriyat Pijama, which means Jewish kids around the globe will be delighting in George’s antics.