After my first son’s bris, Cantor Mark Kushner, our mohel, gave us detailed instructions about how to properly care for the baby and also how to sign up to receive free PJ Library books! I registered my first born within a few months, and now (9 years later), all 3 of my kids are receiving monthly PJ books. The baby who we initially enrolled in the program has since transitioned to the PJ Our Way subscription and currently enjoys selecting his own titles!
As my family has grown during the last decade, so has our extensive library of PJ books on Jewish holidays, cultural events, and other stories. We have our favorite titles that have become worn from the countless bedtime story sessions, and some of the baby board books have pages that stick together after being lovingly read and reread while snacking and feeding.
My kids’ schools have benefitted from the PJ titles as well. During each holiday, I sort through our collection and try to send to the preschool a few related stories. Sometimes I donate a repeat book for the preschool to house it in their own library. I have even brought books into the elementary school to read to the class during guest reader events. For each child’s school reading logs, PJ books make up the majority of the entries.
With literally hundreds of PJ books in our home, my sons’ shelves are bursting. As a writer, teacher, and book lover, I cannot throw away any of the precious stories that I once read to my kids, even if they have outgrown the titles. I recognize that we are fortunate to receive these stories free each month, and we should implement a process to recycle them, rather than destroy them once they begin collecting dust on a shelf. From these objectives, I developed the PJ Library Swap and Drop program.
During the month of November (which coincides with Jewish book month), various JKidPhilly events will provide a space for you to “drop” your gently used PJ books in addition to an area for you to “swap” some of your favorite titles for new ones. The collected titles will find new homes at various Senior centers around the area, preschools, and local libraries. Not able to make it to an event this month? No worries. Collection boxes will be located at various synagogues along the Kehillah of Old York Road, with Old York Road Temple Beth Am spearheading this endeavor.
As you start digging out the winter clothes and switching over your kids’ drawers this fall, please consider rummaging through your child’s library and dropping your unwanted PJ Books at one of our collection sites. Your favorite PJ Books have accompanied your children from birth until their early adolescence; consider doing a mitzvah and giving these beloved stories another turn with a new audience.
Jamie Agins Lincow is a mom to 3 boys and teaches college-level Spanish classes at Lower Moreland High School. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish Language and Literature, and her critical analysis La distopia en las novelas de Ana María Shua has just been published. In addition to academic work, she enjoys blogging about the rollercoaster life of the working mom. You can read some of her work and follow her @ thismultitaskingmom.com.
–By Jamie Agins Lincow