By Lara Nicolson
Family Engagement Program Associate
Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE)
It is an exciting time of transition in the literacy of both my children. My 4 ½ -year old is starting to sound-out and read sight words while my 6-year old can read independently and enjoys reading bedtime books to her brother. My husband and I have always enjoyed the ritual of reading with them after bath when they are cuddly and warm and starting to feel sleepy. They also love this time together and if we miss it, they truly don’t settle as well. I am starting to feel a little sad that our reading habits may change and that in a few years they may no longer want to snuggle with mommy and daddy but will be under the covers with flashlights and their favorite adventure chapter books till all hours.
My kids are voracious readers and we visit the library regularly to pick out dozens of new books to enjoy. We also enjoy building our own Jewish library with our monthly PJ library book selections and some of our favorites have been: Five Little Gefiltes by David Horowitz, Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis and Hanna’s Sabbath Dress by Itzhak Schweiger-Dmi’el.
We are such enthusiasts that we were featured in the Baltimore Sun describing how PJ library has enhanced our family’s Jewish experience. My kids are so excited to receive their own mail in the form of that white PJ library envelope addressed to them, which holds the promise of a new book or CD. Once, we were at a friend’s house and a PJ library envelope arrived in their mailbox. My daughter, astonished that someone else also got this special treat, realized that we are part of a larger community of PJ families and was so proud to share this with her friend.
The fact that I work for PJ library (after volunteering as a PJ parent) is another source of pride for my children. Although daddy works in a fancy office with friendly co-workers who dish out M&M’s, mommy still has the coolest job. I imagine my children think I sit and address the PJ library books myself and send them out all over the world (almost like non-Jewish children see Santa and his elves). To be honest this is done from a national location but I won’t spoil it for them now. When they age out of PJ at 6 1/2- years-old, I know our family will continue to build our Jewish library and I am now inspired to buy the books for them. If you don’t yet receive the PJ library books, sign up now.
We have really enjoyed expanding our PJ experience by meeting other families at the PJ on the Town events. At the December Aquarium event, which was co-sponsored by Beth-El Congregation, my children loved the dolphin show and the fruit sushi roll-ups as well as the stories and crafts. My daughter was most excited that a classmate from her school was there to share the time with her (another PJ friend). In January, we all rode the train at the B&O Railroad Museum with Temple Oheb Shalom and my children again found new friends who helped them complete the last few scavenger hunt questions they could not find. They loved the program at one of their all-time favorite museums – The Walters Art Museum with Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and seeing the faces of the rabbis and teachers they know. And seeing Poe, the Baltimore Raven’s mascot, at the Sports Legends Museum, co-sponsored by Har Sinai Congregation, was very exciting. Check out the CJE Facebook page to see photos from these events, and register now for the next PJ on the Town.
For me, PJ library means unplugging from the iPod, TV and fast pace of our lives and being a family together and sharing our special places with new friends. I would love to hear from you: how has PJ library touched your life?