This Week in JPL History: Way Back Play Back – the Norman Berman Children’s Library.

The Children’s Library has always been a busy place

One of the true treasures of the Library has always been its Children’s library. Through there wasn’t a formal space dedicated to children in the Library until 1951, children’s books were always present. In 1919 made up 10% of the Library’s overall collection. Today, the Norman Berman Children’s Library boasts over 30,000 titles.

A long cherished program of the Children’s library has been Storytime. Running consistently through many of the years that the JPL has been open, the program has long encouraged keen readers and introduced them to new authors and poets. The most recent incarnation of Storytime brings a diverse range of children from all of the island into the Library. The NBCL also offers music programming such as Mother Goose and Music; Rhythm, Rhyme and Storytime; and Most Music, all with facilitator Linda Kravitz. The continued importance of music and Yiddish at the NBCL was made clear with a program in the 1980′s and 90′s called Kinder Klangen with Eva Raby and Sandy Kogut, who sung and recited songs in Yiddish for children. Another extremely popular program at the NBCL is the Mother-Daughter Book Club. The reading group brings together mothers and daughters to discuss books and exchange ideas.

As a way of fostering  literacy the NBCL also runs the Birthday Book program. Begun in 1974 for the program allows for the purchase of a book or DVD in honour of a child’s birthday. The item is inscribed with a dedication to the child, who receives a certificate and gets to be the first to take the book out!

Another impressive program the NBCL participates in is the PJ Library®. The first Canadian library to participate in this wonderful international program, which sees children between 6 months and 5 ½ years sent a Jewish-themed book or CD once a month. Supported by the Marlene and Joe King Family Foundation, its aim is to help foster Jewish values beginning at a young age.

The This Week in Jewish Public Library History blog series was made possible through the generous support of the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives Fund

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