A unique initiative aimed at encouraging young Jewish children to engage in Judaism’s core values via books distributed for free throughout the school year announced on Friday that it is set to launch a branch of the program aimed at the thousands of Israeli families living in the US.The American PJ Library, which distributes free books in English to some 170,000 families with young children, has been operating in the US for a number of years. Last year, together with the Education Ministry here, a number of local authorities and other supporters, it began operating a similar book distribution program in Israel called Sifriyat Pijama.While the Hebrew books, which all have a focus on core Jewish values and include works by authors such as Meir Shalev and Leah Goldberg, were until now only available in Israel, starting in the next few months families with 3-5 year olds can sign up for the “Sifriyat Pijama B’America” program.Funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Israeli Leadership Council, a Los Angeles-based organization for ex-pat Israelis, and the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, the initiative hopes to inspire meaningful conversations between parents and young children on Jewish values and philosophy. Each of the nine books contains two pages of talking points for adults to discuss issues raised with their children, and the package includes an instruction CD.The “target is to have 1,000 registrants by July 15 in order for the registrants to receive the entire set for the 2011- 2012 school year. We are focused on nationwide distribution as our goal is to reach the whole Israeli community in the US,” the organizations said in a statement.“This program retains a strong Jewish identity and appreciation of the Hebrew language,” the statement continued.To sign up for the program visit http://bit.ly/spbamerica.In Israel, the project, which officially started at the beginning of the last academic year, has already seen some 360,000 Hebrew language children’s books distributed for free to pre-schoolers.In addition to funding from the Grinspoon Foundation and the Education Ministry, the Israeli project has received support from the Israel Center for Libraries, some Partnership 2000 communities and some local authorities. The annual budget in Israel is $1.25 million a year, with the ministry providing NIS 45 per child per year.