Sifriyat Pijama – Millions of magical moments
at school and at home
Welcome to Sifriyat Pijama!
Sifriyat Pijama is the Israeli version of the American program PJ Library, which was created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation out of its deep commitment to the Jewish people. Sifriyat Pijama is a reading readiness program that aims to instill a life-long love of reading in young Israelis. In addition to their high literary quality, the books are carefully chosen to invite discussion on values and Jewish heritage. Sifriyat Pijama offers Israeli children and their families an opportunity to create a tradition of reading bedtime stories together and enjoying meaningful conversations on Jewish topics in the privacy of their home.
How the program works
During the school year, participating children are introduced to eight high-quality children’s books in a special Sifriyat Pijama edition. The books are delivered to preschool classes. After initially exploring the book in class, each child is given a copy as a gift for the family, to share together. Each book contains a parent guide with suggestions of activities and discussions for parents to enjoy with their children. In addition, teachers often initiate activities in the classroom around the books, reinforcing the values in the book and stressing the importance and joy of reading books as a family.
The program operates in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education and is distributed to about 250,000 children throughout Israel, serving more than 80% of all preschool children in government schools. In addition, Sifriyat Pijama has partnerships with a number of other organizations and institutions.
How one joins the program
Sifriyat Pijama works in partnership the Ministry of Education, with Israeli municipalities, local councils, community centers and other organizations. It operates in more than 155 communities nationwide, serving more than 250,000 children and their families in 2015-2016. Most communities receive the books for free through joint funding of the Ministry of Education, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and other funders listed in our books. Affluent communities pay for the program through municipal budgets or by collecting a modest fee from parents.
For information on how your Israeli community can join the program, please contact Sifriyat Pijama Development Director Mandy Maor [email protected] (in Hebrew or English). Unlike its American counterpart PJ Library, Sifriyat Pijama is NOT available on an individual subscription basis in Israel.
However, all our book titles and the parent guides are available on our website so that individuals can see the titles of the books we use, obtain them through commercial channels and access the parent suggestions on line from our website.
How we choose the books
Our book selection committee, made up of experts in preschool education and Jewish education, meets regularly and reviews hundreds of books each year. We look for books that deal with universal values or ideas which Judaism has much to say about. We put an emphasis on books with a strong story line that will engage young children. Representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Education are on our book selection committee. We are in constant contact with publishers, children’s book reviewers, children’s librarians, teachers and authors who recommend books for us to consider.
The list of books in Hebrew is available by clicking here for kindergarten and here for pre-kindergarten .
The list of the books in English is available by clicking here for kindergarten and here for pre-kindergarten.
What we expect from parents in the program
After a first reading of the book together, we suggest parents read the book again with their child or children and talk about the ideas that emerge from the book and/or do one or more of the suggested activities. We hope parents and children spend the time to look at the pictures together, enjoy the words or the rhymes, and ask each other what they see in the book. For parents who find it difficult to read in Hebrew, we suggest asking an older sibling or a family friend to join in reading the book – and encouraging the child to “read” the book to the parent from his/her knowledge of the book in class. In our experience, children often want to read Sifriyat Pijama books over and over again. The parent guide can help make the reading a fresh experience every time. We believe that by learning about Jewish values from a young age, Jewish children in Israel are likely to share a strong appreciation and affinity for their shared Jewish culture and retain a strong Jewish identity as they grow older.
Click on the book covers in the "ספרים ופעילויות" section on our website for parent suggestions in Hebrew, English and Russian.
What we expect from teachers in the program
The books arrive in the class by courier with one book for every child in the class as well as two classroom copies. The teacher introduces the book to the class by reading it and often by doing additional activities. She decides when the children will take the book home – after a first reading or after the class has worked with the book repeatedly and the children are well familiar with the book. She may continue working with the book until the next book arrives or throughout the year.
We consider the teacher a family educator whose role is pivotal to encouraging reading in the home. She can do this by requesting that children do a project around the book with parents at home and bring the results to the classroom, and/or she can ask children if they have read the book with their family and encourage them to do so frequently.
The Ministry of Education or other partner organizations train the teachers on how to incorporate the use of the book in the classroom. Additional resources and ideas for teachers are available on our website (in Hebrew only).
Sifriyat Pijama is a program that focuses both on Jewish values and on reading readiness. We consider teachers as crucial to encouraging both these aspects of the program not only in the classroom but also in the home.
How we know the program is working
We consider evaluation an important part of our program and are pleased to share the results of surveys we conduct with teachers and parents. For information on what we have learned so far, please click here. We also receive hundreds of thank you letters from teachers, parents and classes. See the very limited sampling below.
“Sifriyat Pijama enriched the children in our preschool in so many ways, far beyond language skills: it contributed in the emotional-social arena, in the values that the books brought up, in awareness of nature and environment, and in the continuum of activities in preschool and at home. The books offered opportunities for imaginations to fly to places we would not have visited without them. The stories, the illustrations, the language, the emotions and above all the amazing experience of receiving the books nourished us in so many ways and brought so much meaning and joy. Through the pleasure, creativity and the dramatic plays that the books inspired, we enriched our inner lives. For all this, we, the children of Rimon Preschool in Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev offer our profound thanks.” (May 2013)
How to support Sifriyat Pijama
While The Harold Grinspoon Foundation covers all overhead for the administration and development of the program, Sifriyat Pijama is seeking financial partners to help fund the cost of the books and their distribution to children in Israel. Please contact our Partnership Director Mandy Maor at [email protected] if you or your community is interested in becoming a sponsor of this wonderful program!
Donations to Sifriyat Pijama can be sent:
In dollars to:
67 Hunt Street, Suite 100
Agawam MA 01001
In shekels to:
Keren Grinspoon Israel (payee)
- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent us a special message which was later published – click here to read it
- Reading in Bed, Esra Magazine (from ISSUE 180/July-Aug 2015)
- Harold Grinspoon on the the Jerusalem Post by Lidar Garvel-Lazi 11.06.14
- jewishbookcouncil (March 2013), Contact Magazine (2012).
- Contact Magazine(2012)
For other Media Coverage click here
To receive regular updates about Sifriyat pijama please write to us at [email protected] and ask to join our English mailing list.
We invite you to contact us with your questions and/or comments (in Hebrew or English) at [email protected]
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