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PJ Library expands to include older children

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PJ Library, the popular program that gives away free Jewish books for children, has been expanded to include older kids aged nine to 11.

The aim of the new initiative, called PJ Our Way, is to allow Jewish youngsters to continue exploring their Jewish identity by reading books on Jewish themes, after they have outgrown the original series.

PJ Library has been available in Montreal for the past nine years thanks to initial support from the Marlene and Joel King Family Foundation. Since its launch in Montreal, the program has grown with funding from the estate of Abraham Ulaine, the Mitzi and Mel Dobrin Family, Sharon Steinberg, as well as Sharon and Paul Levine. Today, PJ Library is run by GenMTL, Federation CJA’s young adult division.

Over its history, more than 200,000 books have been delivered in Montreal and numerous families have participated in related programming designed to strengthen their connection to the community.

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“PJ Our Way builds on this success, allowing tweens to have more choice as they develop their identities as both lifelong readers and Jews,” according to a Federation press release.

“PJ Our Way gives participants more say in what they read, as well as creative platforms for discussion with their peers.”

Subscribers can select one of four free books each month. On the PJ Our Way website, they can write book reviews, take quizzes and polls, and watch peer-created book trailers and author interviews.

“We believe these stories and their values help shape young people in their understanding of being Jewish, and it’s our hope that PJ Our Way will ultimately build a strong community of young Jewish people,” said Harold Grinspoon, the American philanthropist who founded PJ Library in 2005.

A selection of PJ Library books for younger children. (Jesse Kline/The CJN)

PJ Our Way books are provided at no cost to families, because of the support of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and PJ Alliance partners. The program is administered throughout North America by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which is based in Agawam, Mass.

When it began in 2005, about 200 families were on PJ Library’s monthly mailing list. Now more than 165,000 children between the ages of six months and eight years receive the books in more than 200 communities in the United States and Canada.

In addition, over 260,000 schoolchildren in Israel receive Hebrew-language, Jewish values-based books through a PJ Library-affiliated program called Sifriyat Pijama. PJ Library is also available in Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Russia, Latin America and Singapore.

Children can be enrolled in PJ Library Our Way from age eight until the day before their 12th birthday.

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