The U.S. Library of Congress has announced that Keren Grinspoon Israel (KGI, the Grinspoon Israel Foundation) has been selected as a 2020 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree.

It is the first in Israel to receive an honor from the Library of Congress, which each year recognizes 15 organizations for innovation in promoting literacy worldwide. It was adapted from the popular PJ Library book-gifting program created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

KGI, founded in 2009, distributes some 3.5 million books in Hebrew and Arabic each year to more than 500,000 Israeli children, operating through public preschools and elementary schools in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education. Israeli children are introduced to a book at school, and each one receives a copy to take home and keep. By the time a child enters third grade, he or she will have a home library of at least 32 books as a result.

The foundation was granted the honor on the basis of a recommendation from David Dickinson, the Margaret Cowan chair of Vanderbilt University’s Department of Teaching and Learning. He noted that Sifriyat Pijama and Maktabat al-Fanoos “provide exactly the type of supports known to nourish early development,” and that the programs create “sustained support for a child to learn and use the vocabulary and concepts and apply the lessons learned about values.”

“I welcome the international recognition that has been bestowed … from the U.S. Library of Congress. Reading books is an important cornerstone in acquiring education and knowledge at any age,” said Israeli Education Minister Yoav Galant. “To a great extent, a good book opens a gate to new worlds and new horizons, as well as significantly helping to enrich language.”

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