Each month, more than 100 Jewish families in Howard County receive children's books in the mail as part of a literary program created to celebrate Jewish heritage.
PJ Library, the nonprofit behind the book delivery program, is a national organization designed to help educate parents and their children about the traditions of Judaism through books such as "The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey," "The Bedtime Sh'ma" and "Estie the Mensch."
The program was founded in 2005 by Harold Grinspoon and has since been established in nearly 200 locations in the United States and Canada.
PJ Library, which is paid for in Howard County by The Harold Grinspoon Foundation and local partners like the Jewish Federation of Howard County, is free for any parent raising a child to be Jewish. The materials, 11 books and one CD per year, are made for kids between the ages of 6 months and 8 years. Each child receives books targeted to his age group.
Michelle Goldberg, the executive director for PJ Library in Howard County, says that the books are typically themed for holidays, such as Passover, and Jewish traditions like kosher foods and the Sabbath. Along with the books, parents receive resources, such as conversation starters and information about local events and groups.
"Once you get it, you realize how valuable it is," says Denise Taylor, whose 3-year-old daughter, Sarina, is enrolled in PJ Library. Taylor's husband, Chris, who is not Jewish, also finds the books useful and has learned a lot from them, she says.
"It's fun, it's helpful, it's a time-saver," she says.