My daughters are hardly book-deprived.
Thanks to two older cousins who supply us with a Strand’s worth of hand-me-downs, countless bookish relatives who keep Amazon.com busy around Chanukah and birthdays, and my husband Joe’s seeming inability to walk out of a Barnes & Noble without purchasing something, our bookshelves runneth over.
If anything, our main problem at story time is not finding something to read, but finding the particular book we want to read, as it is usually buried underneath/behind piles and stacks of the books we’re not in the mood to read. (Or it has fallen behind the sofa cushions and beds.)
It’s gotten so overwhelming that we rarely bother to go to the public library, simply because I worry that the library books will become permanently lost among our own collection. My pathological inability to return library books on time doesn’t help matters.
It’s enough to make one contemplate a Kindle or iPad.
Nonetheless, a few months ago I found myself signing up to receive an additional book each month. I registered the kids for The PJ Library, a free Jewish book-of-the-month club for children 8 and under.
So far, I’m a big fan of the program, which is holding its second annual conference later this week. I love the way it is, like Birthright Israel (the free 10-day trips to Israel), a gift, with no strings attached. I love that it is accessible to anyone who is interested, including interfaith families and their children. I love that it is rich in content, that it encourages parents to read with their children, that it offers a low-key way to bring Judaism into the home. And I love that it is helping to return unjustly back-listed Jewish picture books (like one of our family’s personal favorites, “In the Month of Kislev” by Nina Jaffe) to print.
Plus, there is just something refreshing about the old-fashioned, low-tech approach, the focus on books, on paper, a tangible thing you can touch and hold, no computer or Smartphone or Broadband required!
A national initiative of the Massachusetts-based Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which partners with local communities, PJ is now making a big effort to expand into the New York area.
Our first book, Barbara Diamond Goldin’s Shavuot story “A Mountain of Blintzes,” just arrived last week, and I’m looking forward to reading it with the girls.
I just have to find it first.