The PJ Library – what’s not to love? (plus a giveaway)

I’m writing from the PJ Library conference in Baltimore. When I try to explain my relationship to The PJ Library to the other conference attendees, I realize,well…’s complicated. I’m here primarily because I get paid to write a monthly column for about PJ LIbrary books. But, I’m also a PJ Library author, which means that PJ Library buys thousands of copies of my book, A Mezuzah on the Door, every year. And I’m also a teacher who receives multiple copies of PJ Library books to use in my classroom.  And, of course, I”m a PJ Library parent, whose daughters, ages 5 and 7, each receive a free Jewish book every month. I guess you could say I’m a PJ LIbrary lackey. Or am I a junkie? Maybe you could say the PJ LIbrary is my sugar daddy. Or, to simplify matters, you could just say I LOVE THE PJ LIBRARY SO MUCH.


While probably no else at this conference has benefited more than I from this program, I am surrounded by hundreds of people who love the PJ LIbrary as much as I do. Simply put, we are people who love children, love books, and love Judaism. We’re united in the belief that giving families free Jewish books is an investment in Jewish continuity and we are all doing our part to get these books into as many homes as possible. And not just into homes, but into parents’ laps.

I’m here to learn more about what Jewish parents want to read, so I can do a better job on this blog. I’m also here to celebrate Jewish books, because that’s what The PJ Library is all about. So please, tell me – what is one of your most beloved Jewish children’s books? And what’s something that you love about it? Leave your answers in a comment below (before Wednesday, April 6) and I’ll select one reader to win a copy of one of my favorite PJ Library books – Chicken Man, by Michelle Edwards.


can you believe they are all free?

I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about some of the great new books I’ve read. But right now, I need to go get one of those chocolate balls on a stick that all the PJ professionals are eating before they are all gone.

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posted April 3, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I just love the PJ Library! It has been such a wonderful resource for me and my family. My daughter and I’s favorite book is “Abraham’s Search for G-d” by Jacqueline Jules. The story is so good and the pictures are amazing. My preschooler loves for me to read it over and over again.

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posted April 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm

My kids and I love all of the PJ Library! They love getting mail from PJ Library, and then we need to read the books immediately. The CDs are kept near their computers so they can listen to them all of the time. I have told many people to see if they can receive books for their children through PJ Library. If I had to choose my favorite book, I think it would have to be The Goodnight Shema. It is a very peaceful way to end to evening, and the kids love to say the Shema as a family.

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posted April 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I’d have to say that my favorite is Hoppy Passover. Just kidding! That book is terrible! And you are so right- the obvious parallels to Easter are HYSTERICAL! I can’t believe I didn’t catch it. Seriously, I think Bagels From Benny is the best book ever written, PJ Library or otherwise. LOVE IT!

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NIna Black

posted April 4, 2011 at 12:17 am

Enjoy the conference. I miss going to them. I think my favorite Jewish book to read to young children is Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gillman. The parallel stories, the gorgeous illustrations-you name it. I also like Bagels from Benny though but for children who are a little older. And I could go on and on and on.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 11:11 am

It’s hard to limit book choices to just one… Of our PJ Library books, the kids and I really love “Five Little Gefiltes,” and “The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah,” mostly because of their senses of humor. The “The Bedtime Sh’ma” is beautifully illustrated, and a peaceful read right before bed.

Outside of the PJ Library, my daughter is in the middle of an epic reread of “All of a Kind Family,” which also was one of my favorites as a kid. I think she particularly likes reading about how the girls relate to each other. And one of my favorite books of all time is definitely “The Night Journey” by Kathryn Lasky. I loved the sense of history and the suspense as Sashie tells her story to her great-granddaughter.

I’d have to agree with Becky about “Hoppy Passover.” When I first saw the cover I thought we had somehow been sent an Easter book by mistake. Nonetheless, my son has been asking for it frequently.

We already have “Chicken Man” courtesy of the PJ Library, so, as much as I love the chance to win a free book, I’ll pass for someone who doesn’t have a copy.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I love it, too. Unfortunately, our local community dropped its affiliation so our little guy doesn’t get it anymore.

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    posted April 4, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    They are trying to find funding for Eugene! Southern Oregon and Bend are about to get the program.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

We are huge PJ Library fans! Our favorite so far is “Sunrise, Sunset” because it ties in beautifully with our love of musicals. Our 3 year old daughter sings along as we read the book to her. It’s beautiful artwork is fantastic, too!

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posted April 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm

My youngest just aged out of PJ Library and we really miss it! But we’ve got a shelf full of fabulous books and we’re so grateful to the PJ folks for doing what they do.

One of my most beloved Jewish children’s books is The Carp in the Bathtub by Barbara Cohen. I first found it in the library when I was a kid in the ’70’s and always remembered it. I was thrilled to find a copy at a yard sale a few years back, and now my kids love it as much as I did. It’s a great story and I particularly like that Cohen doesn’t go for the easy ending (saving the fish) but the realistic one.

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posted April 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I have raved before about PJ. It’s a wonderful program. I think our family favorites are the folktales (like “Joseph had a Little Overcoat” and “Much, Much Better”) and the series about the holidays that show photos of real kids, “It’s Shofar Time,” “It’s Sukkah Time,” and so on (we may have only gotten one of those from PJ, come to think of it). We received a “Hoppy Hanukkah” (sweet illustrations, text is eh) but not a “Hoppy Passover,” so maybe it’s an unfortunate expansion of the series?

I will say though that I sometimes find it hard to connect with the selections. I don’t know if it’s my own background/cultural biases but they feel a bit tokenist to me sometimes. You know, Let’s Write a Book for Jewish Kids About XYZ. So I would say I’m looking for stories where the Jewishness is intrinsic, a given rather than the engine of the narrative, if that makes sense. (And no more Chanukkah books with presents as a mainstay of the plot *cough personal pet peeve cough.*)

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posted April 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I love the Jalapeno Bagels book because it showcases all the diversity in the Jewish community!

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