Everyday Heros: Meet LeeAnne
Three things, according to LeeAnne Galioto, mother of Maggie and Cassie. First, there is the pleasure of the monthly arrival. Her kids love getting the books. They run to the mail slot and they “rip open the package,” LeeAnne said, laughing.
Second, the books tell compelling stories, so her girls learn to love reading. “We read each book over and over,” LeeAnne said. “The PJ books are the ones most frequently selected for bedtime.” Cassie is proud of becoming a Cincinnati Public Library “reading rock star.”
Finally, and most powerfully, the books are a way for LeeAnne, who was not raised Jewish, and her children to learn about Jewish values, traditions and holidays together. “When we had our first child, I started looking at religion differently, and we started to figure out how we wanted to raise our daughter,” she said. “I wanted my daughter to have religion in her life.” So LeeAnne converted to Judaism, her husband’s religion,
When Cassie was 6 months old. LeeAnne began studying, but she struggled to teach Jewish values and traditions to Cassie in a kid-friendly way. She found the books a great help. “A lot of things I’m learning, as she’s learning,” she said.
The program is called PJ Library, and it is funded in part by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. Each family with a child between 6 months and 8 years old receives a monthly book or music CD in the mail. A key element of PJ Library is the broader community and connections it creates. Its newsletter and PJ Library events give LeeAnne’s family the chance to meet other Jewish families and become more engaged in the broader Jewish community.
“It’s a great program,” LeeAnne said. “Every month the girls are excited about learning and about Judaism. And both of those things are important and lifelong.”