Meet the Budman Family

PJ Library® Family of the Month

Heidi Chang, her husband, Joe Budman, and their kids, Sofie (age 7) and Ava (age 5), live in Redwood City. Heidi and Joe feel such gratitude for the PJ Library® program that they were happy to give back and share their PJ Library® story. We thank them, and wish them many more years of happy reading.

Tell us about your PJ Library® experience:

Sofie and Ava

As new parents, you often hear other parents talking about ideas for their family. So, PJ Library® kept coming up from our Jewish friends. We signed Sofie up when she was one, and she has been a subscriber for 6 years, and Ava since she was 6 months old. Every month, they look forward to getting their books. The way PJ Library® times the content around holidays and summertime is great. Books like Sam and Charlie (and Sam Too) at Camp spawn conversations about things coming up in their lives. You peel back the layers in conversations and the flaps in the books remind you what to ask your children and connects to Jewish ideas and ideals. I’m not well versed in Jewish values, and I’m an educator. As a non-Jewish parent, the question opens up conversation about my kids’ Jewish heritage. We sing the songs from the CDs, make the recipes, and it gets them curious about what it means to be Jewish. They ask their father about what it means to be Jewish. Joe is Russian Jewish and they ask their baba, Joe’s mom, about Judaism.

What are your children's favorite PJ books?

Which ones are not? They love them all. Their favorites are Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, The Littlest Pair, Shmulik Paints the Town, and The Matzah That Papa Brought Home. They love the stories and the illustrations. Snow in Jerusalem allowed them to figure out about how to get along. It’s about two different boys who think the one cat is theirs, and their friendship. Whenever the girls have a conflict, I use that story to explain to them about being right. Sunrise, Sunset, based on Fiddler on the Roof, is another favorite, as are Sam and Charlie (and Sam Too!), and Red Blue & Yellow Yarn: A Tale of Forgiveness.

What has been the impact of PJ books on your family?

I didn’t grow up with religion and, similar to Joe, a lot of what I learned was around values. I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, which was a culturally rich area with different ethnicities. We were invited to bar and bat mitzvahs and we got a sense about Judaism through that. Both of my parents are Chinese – my dad grew up with Buddhist values, and my mom went to Catholic school. I remember going to Catholic church services. All our friends were going to church, so we were curious. So, for me, the parent who didn’t grow up with Jewish values, PJ Library® books have helped me to understand the values and how I can help to encourage those values in my family.

In terms of broad strokes, the values are universal. I love the Grandparent program and I signed up my parents. I hope that can help with a different layer of understanding with our parents and provide another way to connect with their grandkids. The books help foster that connection and values. They are an extreme education for me and prompts for me. When I get Molly’s Menorah, I know to get ready for Chanukah. For someone who didn’t grow up this way or with a Jewish calendar, the dates are changing so the books prompt me to figure out how to celebrate. I count on PJ Library® to send me the values and ideas in time for holidays. I can count on the Maccabeats for fun songs that complement the holiday. It’s not only a way to encourage values, but also to promote literacy. And, storytelling is a way to communicate with each other and they are excited by it. I feel like we were lucky to come across PJ Library® because it has goals on multiple levels and is so accessible.

The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund is pleased to offer the PJ Library® program to families like the Budmans in the San Francisco Bay Area with kids from six months through eight years of age. PJ Library® is a program of the Early Childhood Education Initiative of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund with support from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Albert and Janet Schultz PJ Library® Fund, the Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation and other generous local funders. PJ Library® offers books to many more families in our area.

Visit to sign up today, or email Vivien Braly at with any questions!

Tags: PJ Library
Categories: Kids & Families


August 23, 2016


Vivien Braly