EMSB students participate in PJ Our Way Program, enjoying books with Jewish themes
PJ Library sends free Jewish children's books to families across the world every month with. A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in the United States, it is made possible through partnerships with philanthropists and local Jewish organizations such as Federation CJA in Montreal. The latter has now introduced PJ Our Way, the next chapter of PJ Library for kids ages nine to 12, offering them the gift of exceptional books with Jewish themes that they choose themselves—for free!
Every month, kids can come to the PJ Our Way site at https://www.pjourway.org/ to choose the book they want to receive. To make their choice easier, every title offered comes with a synopsis, author bios, ratings, reviews, and video trailers. Kids can also take polls and quizzes, participate in monthly author interviews and challenges, comment on blog posts, as well as creative platforms for discussion with their peers.
English Montreal School Board parents Carly and Derek Rosenzweig’s 11-year old daughter, Yael, a Grade 5 student at Gardenview Elementary School in Saint-Laurent, is an avid reader and PJ Our way member. She likes that she can choose the books on her own rather than having them randomly assigned to her, and appreciates the selection of longer books for older kids. The whole family, including their two younger daughters, Sadie, 8, and Eliza, 5, have been enjoying the PJ Library books since the start of the program.
“Yael tries to identify with the characters and likes to imagine herself in the stories,” says Derek. “She even chose to do a book report on one of the stories about a girl living in a secular household in New York who ends up finding out she has a lot in common with a girl from an Orthodox home. By the end of the story, Yael felt more interested in other people and realized that we all come from the same extended family—and that’s amazing. As a parent I thought, this is perfect. This is exactly what we need to be learning about and reinforcing at home.”
The Rosenzweig family considers themselves traditional. After school, the children attend The Community Hebrew School organized by Chabad of VSL, and the family finds the PJ books reinforce their traditions and values. “I would tell parents who aren't part of the Jewish day school system that with PJ, it's easy to communicate some kind of Jewish content to your children,” says Derek. “Whether it's coming from community programs or conversations in the home, PJ Our Way provides a very good opportunity for that.”
Not only do the books encourage Yael to think and ask questions about the stories and Jewish values and traditions she is reading about, but Derek finds it comforting that this is the kind of content Yael is accessing. “I know that my daughter is engaging with age-appropriate content that I can trust and it’s important that we have this kind of content available to all our kids.”
The Rosenzweigs would like to let other Jewish families in the community know that if they encourage their children to join PJ Our Way, their kids will feel a sense of belonging and instantly become a part of something. “The overall message is that kids really like to feel like they are a part of something and PJ Our Way is a great way to engage them.”
Parents can sign up their children for the PJ Our Way program by visiting https://www.pjourway.org/ where they can log in between the first and the 10th of each month to choose their book.
For more information on PJ Our Way and PJ Library, contact Judy Kremer at 514-345-2645 ext. 3052 or firstname.lastname@example.org. PJ Our Way books are provided to families at no cost because of the generous contributions from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and PJ Alliance partners.