Library makes bedtime storytime


Bedtime stories can be one of the best excuses for learning and quality time between a parent and their child. The PJ Library program was launched in 2005 in Springfield, Mass. for that reason, with many other communities to follow. The program will now be brought to St. Louis, thanks to a generous gift from Leslie and Michael Litwack. Their donation made a grant possible for the program to work through the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

“I really believe it’s a phenomenal program,” said Natalie Blitt, the program director for PJ Library. “Some of the best memories are parents reading books with their children and talking to their children about the books they read together. It really engages families who are already reading great books with their children. Our goal is to create Jewish moments.”


The PJ Library is a program that sends Jewish books or a CD to local Jewish children who are between the ages of six months and six years. Any Jewish family is encouraged to sign up for the program, and a book or CD is sent to a child every month for a year for free. After the first year, families will be asked to contribute $18 a year to continue to participate in the program, with the rest of the costs, $42 a child, taken care of by Leslie and Michael Litwack.

The Grinspoon Foundation will also supply more than 50 percent of their gift in matching-funds, in addition to the Litwacks’ contribution.

Leslie Litwack said she and her husband Michael chose to donate to the PJ Library program because they think the program is a great idea and sounds very appealing.

“Anything that promotes having a mother or father reading to their child at night,” Litwack said. “It uses an essence of Judaism as a basis for learning that is being instilled into the child. I love the idea that these are books that are going to be addressed to the child. This program was thinking outside of the box and had never been done before, and I think it has tremendous potential.”

The program started out including children from ages six months to five-and-a-half, then later expanded to six-year-olds. Next year, they hope to expand the age group even more to seven-year-olds, and eventually to eight-year-olds.

“The books are of the highest quality, and they are beautifully engaging stories,” Blitt said. “Across the country families have called saying this is the first time families have been able to talk about their Jewish heritage.”

The St. Louis program will be administered by the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library, and will reach families through various agencies and programs, including the JCC and some congregations in the area. There are currently 108 children enrolled in the St. Louis program, and the number is expected to rise.

“I think the Jewish community of St. Louis is very lucky to have such wonderful thoughtful contributors,” Blitt said.