LIVINGSTON, NJ - If PJ Library founder Harold Grinspoon wanted an enthusiastic recipient for three millionth book he presented, he definitely got one.
Six-year-old Jordana Goldstein was bubbling over with excitement when Grinspoon and PJ Library Director Marcie Greenfield Simons visited her Livingston home on Wednesday afternoon to present her with the milestone book.
Jordana and her brother, Ryan, 8, are the children of Cindy and Neil Goldstein. The family participates in the PJ Library program and were the recipients of the three millionth book, "Noah's Swin-a-Thon," by Ann Koffsky. The author and illustrator, from Staten Island, even made an appearance to talk with the kids about the book and sign it for Jordana.
PJ Library now sends 100,000 free books to families in 178 communities across the country each month – up from 200 a month in 2005. The program’s impact is felt throughout Jewish federations, community centers, synagogues, and other organizations that partner with PJ Library in making these books available to young children and their families.
"This is thrilling, absolutely thrilling," Grinspoon said, standing outside the Goldsteins' door with a bouquet of balloons in one hand and a poster of the book's cover in the other. "In our wildest dreams, we never imagined we would have distributed three million books. It's wonderful to know that these books are being shared and talked about in Jewish homes all over the country as parents pass on our heritage to their children."
It was only a year ago that PJ Library gave away the two millionth book, to a family in Brooklyn.
Simons presented Jordana with a tote bag full of goodies, including other books, little pads of paper, and a t-shirt. There was also a bag for Ryan, with books for his age group. PJ Library's books are always age-appropriate.
After leading Grinspoon to a chair where she'd laid out an impressive pile of her PJ Library books to show him, Jordana settled down on the couch between him and Simons, while Simons read aloud "Noah's Swim-a-Thon," about a young boy at camp who doesn't want to swim (it makes him feel "goosebumpy") until he learns about the camp swim-a-thon that will help give other children a chance to attend the camp he loves.
Koffsky, who was dressed in a lifeguard t-shirt, told Ryan and Jordana that she also works at a camp as a lifeguard, and was inspired to write the book by the kids she sees who are afraid to swim.
Locally, 2,400 children in Essex, Morris, Sussex, and northern Union countries receive books each month through The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, a partner agency of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.
Grinspoon founded PJ Library in 2005 to gift award-winning children’s books to families all over North America, Israel, and the world. Inspired by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Grinspoon wanted to engage children and their families in Jewish traditions, holidays, and heritage through the beauty and power of high-quality children’s books. He's also the founder of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, headquartered in Western Massachusettts.