Lauren Bartholomae on February 3, 2017
With the week of February 5th being Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week, what better opportunity than to highlight a few of my favorite PJ Library books! As the director of PJ Library in Pittsburgh, I get the privilege of receiving nine wonderful, high quality Jewish children’s books every month – one for each age group from 6 months to age 8, and then one for 9 to 12 year olds. In honor of Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week and also in honor of the JCC value of “loving your neighbor as yourself,” I have chosen four PJ Library books to highlight; books that in addition to being beautifully written and illustrated, really exemplify this important value.
I Can Help, written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello (for babies and toddlers)
This adorable book for babies and toddlers teaches about the idea of being a mensch, or a good, helpful person. In this book we meet many mensches in the form of animals who need help and then in turn help someone else. This story reminds us that even the youngest members of our community can help. The mensch-like behavior of the animals in this book encourages children to do their part to help others, especially when they receive help for themselves.
26 Big Things Small Hands Do, written by Coleen Paratore, illustrated by Mike Reed (for toddlers and young preschoolers)
This colorful book for toddlers and young preschoolers reminds us that even the smallest hands can build a better world. This book goes through the alphabet and gives an idea for each letter of something that small hands can do to help the world, people, or animals. For “I” small hands can invite new friends to play, while for “R” small hands can recycle. The pictures tell the story for each letter, which can prompt wonderful conversations between caregiver and child about how each child is using their small hands to help.
How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box, written by Linda Heller, illustrated by Stacey Dressen McQueen (for ages 4-6)
Most people think of tzedakah as meaning “charity”, but tzedakah is also simply any act of justice or the proper thing to do. This book teaches about both of these forms of tzedakah. As Dalia explores tzedakah with her friends, she creates a tzedakah box where she can keep the money she’s saving to help those in need. In the process Dalia, her friends and her little brother Yossi learn about the power and joy of giving to others. What a powerful lesson for preschoolers!
Bone Button Borscht, written by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dusan Petricic (for ages 5-7)
In this retelling of the classic tale “Stone Soup” a poor beggar enters a town where the villagers resist sharing anything. Through the wit and clever actions of the beggar, they see the error of their ways and are transformed into a generous community. In this story, school-age children learn that even when someone is in need, there are always those that are in even greater need, and even those in need can and should help others.
As you can see, PJ Library helps families of all ages engage in Jewish conversations at home through high quality books and music. If you are raising a Jewish child between the ages of 6 months and 12 years of age, you are eligible to receive FREE PJ Library books in the mail! Visit www.pjlibrary.org if your child is 6 months-8 years old, and www.pjourway.org if your child is 9-12.
Do you have a question about PJ Library? Please fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you shortly.