Douglas likes The Shabbat Box, which talks about a boy who loses the special box during his turn to bring it home before Sabbath.
“I love that they are age-appropriate,” Pollino said.
The Broward-based program serves five age groups. It begins with the “Apples & Honey” category, with simple pictures and concepts, for ages 6 months to 2 years and goes up to the “Eggs Matzah” category, with more-nuanced stories including fantasy, folktales and Bible stories, for children aged 5 and 6.
“They reinforce the Judaism they learn at their school and at Sunday school,” Pollino said. “And it’s really hard to find quality Jewish books that are not about the Holocaust.”
Tokar said the books delivered by the PJ Library were carefully selected by a professional team. “All of our books teach Jewish values, traditions and customs, and they’re done in a way that encourages a family to snuggle up and read and talk about them,” Tokar said.
While some of the books are written specifically for PJ Library, many are already available on the wider market. However, if they make the PJ Library they are specially printed with information flaps. They include open-ended questions that parents can use to discuss the book’s message with their children.
In advance of Rosh Hashanah, some families received Linda Heller’s Today Is the Birthday of the World. Tokar, a grandmother, said she cried when she read the book. “It teaches you to be the best you can be. What a universally beautiful message,” she said.
All of God’s creatures — the giraffe, elephant, beaver, fish, bee, worm, cow and little child — are asked by God: “Were you the best little [giraffe, elephant . . .] that you could be?”
At the end of the book, God said he is proud of his little helpers. “Because when you are the best that you can be, then the world is the best place that it can be, and there is no better birthday present.”
The PJ Library’s jacket of that book suggests that parents ask their children how they can lift the world’s spirit.
It says: “As you encourage inclinations to sing, draw, bake, read, weed, share, smile, respect, consider and love, you foster the world’s best.”