PJ Library, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s popular national program that sends free Jewish-themed books and music each month to tens of thousands of children up to age 8, is launching a new edition: PJ Our Way.
The new two-year multi-city pilot project, being launched in Chicago in partnership with the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, expands the program to Jewish kids ages 9 to 11 and, for the first time, lets them choose the books they receive.
Every month, children can go online to pick from a selection of high-quality titles reviewed by a panel of PJ educators, parents and kids. They also will be able to write reviews, upload their own video trailers, and share ideas on the PJ Our Way website.
Those who want to take an even more active role can apply to the National Design Team, where they will have early access to PJ Our Way books and work with PJ Library to create videos and reviews for the website.
PJ Our Way also offers parents the opportunity to read about each book and find suggestions for family discussion on the PJ Our Way Parent Blog. They can join the conversation online and learn about activities and events happening in their local Jewish communities. Congregational educators and day schools also will develop related programming.
All participants, including those who previously signed up for the original PJ Library program, must register for PJ Our Way. The website, www.pjourway.org, is now open for registration. Eligibility is spelled out there, and parent approval is required at sign-up.
Once they register, each child will receive a copy of “Jordan and the Dreadful Golem,” by Karen Goldman, as a welcome gift. After that, they will be able to choose from a selection of books each month.
The full website, with all of the new features, goes live in a few weeks, at which point kids will be able to start choosing books. Selections made by the 10th of each month will be delivered 4-6 weeks later.
JUF’s original partnership with the PJ Library program, for children 8 and younger, continues to serve more than 6,000 Chicago-area families and is the largest local effort in the nation. Part of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s national initiative to promote Jewish literacy among children and their families, the Chicago program is a gift from the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; generous local donors including Iris and Steve Podolsky, Charlene and Pierre Eilian, and the Crown Family Philanthropies; and local Jewish early childhood educators.