Ahh, fall. When thoughts turn to cooler temps, pumpkin spice, and back to school. Last month, my newsfeed started filling up with my friends’ bright-eyed kiddos heading off to school, proudly displaying their “first day of” chalkboard signs.
Now, my own daughter isn’t in school just yet — she’s 22 months old — but the back-to-school excitement got me thinking. What could we add to our daily routine that would be educational, fun, and easy enough to squeeze into even the busiest of days? Reading!
After all, I know that reading together helps language development and comprehension (something our pediatrician reminds us of at every visit!). Plus, it can be a great opportunity for bonding and connecting with your kids, and reading together is the perfect calming activity to incorporate into bedtime routines.
My best friend’s 5-year-old recently completed the “1,000 books before kindergarten,” challenge, but why wait? If we read just three books every day, we’ll reach 1,000 books well before my daughter turns 3. Pretty cool.
We already read a fair amount together, but we often choose the same stories over and over again. Sometimes it’s because they’re my (or my husband’s) favorites, and sometimes it’s because our daughter is now old enough to ask for her favorites, too. But I know it’s important to expose her to other stories, for her to see new pictures and hear new words, and for us to have new and different inspiration for our conversations each day.
Just as I was starting to think about seeking out some new books to refresh our shelves, I learned about something called PJ Library.
Have you heard about this program yet? If not, I am excited to be the one to let you in on the secret. It’s a free (yes, free!) book and music delivery program for kids aged 6 months to 6.5 years. (PJ stands for pajamas, since many families sit down to read stories together at bedtime.)
Each month, your child will receive a new book, carefully selected by a committee of writers, early childhood professionals, and content specialists, who seek out compelling stories, captivating illustrations, and diverse perspectives on Jewish customs and practice.
While the books all have Jewish elements, the themes are universal — from sharing to expressing gratitude to being a good friend. Many of the stories touch upon Jewish culture in a really accessible way, which is perfect for exposing my daughter (and myself) to more than just the traditions and beliefs that are familiar to me.
On top of all this, we love getting mail. My daughter gets so excited when she hears the familiar sound of our mailbox clanking open and shut, and she runs to the door to see what we got. Unlike me, she doesn’t mind when it’s a credit card offer or a bill, but getting something that’s just for her is really the best. In a world of quick texts, expiring snaps, and store emails that bog down your inbox, getting a book in the mail is most definitely a treat.
Not to mention, that monthly delivery is a great reminder to get back on track with your reading routine if you find you’ve missed a few days, or even weeks, of reading regularly with your child.
Three books a day, that’s my goal. They can be short books or long books, look-and-finds or playful rhymes, stories that teach or ones that are just for fun.
How about you? What kind of reading goal would work well for your family? If you need some new ideas, a monthly reminder, or just love the idea of getting some free books in the mail, you can learn more about PJ Library here.