The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the organization behind the popular PJ Library, has been distributing free books to Arab Israeli kindergarten and pre-K children for a month now.
And why not?
Called Maktabat al-Fanoos, which is Arabic for Lantern Library, the program, funded in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Education and the Price Family Charitable Fund, will give some 45,000 books to Arab Israeli children each month. PJ Library now distributes more than 130,000 free books to Jewish children in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. Four years ago, the Grinspoon Foundation also started Sifriyat Pijama, Hebrew-language books distributed to Israel’s Jewish children.
PJ Library has distributed books with Jewish themes free to Jewish children for nine years. While Arab Israeli children won’t be receiving books with Jewish themes, there are universal and shared themes that are appropriate for young readers, be they Jewish or Arab. We concur with Grinspoon’s director of Israel operations, Galina Vromen, when she said that distributing these books to Arab children is “in the interest of the State of Israel.” We know that there are Arab publishers who might choose not to distribute these books. We can only hope that such messages as honoring parents, tolerance for all people, personal safety for children, and many others offer common ground for all children, be they Jew or Arab.
The Grinspoon Foundation should be lauded. If a possible future peace between two peoples can come from children’s books, let’s turn the page and begin readingâ€¦together. â€“PJ