Welcome Back, All of a Kind Family!

All-of-a-Kind Family front cover by Sydney Taylor.

"OMG. I LOVED those books." I practically shrieked when I heard that that they were re-issuing the All of a Kind Family books.

I was immediately embarrassed by the emotional intensity of my response. But I was transported to the feelings I had when I first read them. As a bookish 8 year old, I remember sitting on my bed binge-reading (the then-equivalent of binge watching) them—I could hardly wait to finish one to start the next.

But what was the appeal? I was an assimilated girl growing up in the "ticky-tacky" track houses of the suburbs of Southern California in the 60's. Most of my relatives were American born, secular Jews who had never lived in New York. No one I knew spoke Yiddish or observed Shabbat or the holidays in traditional ways.

And yet, maybe that was the appeal. The All of a Kind Family books told the story of a large Jewish family of many girls. They squabbling with each other, saved their pennies for candy and misplaced library books, and moved into new neighborhoods. While particular in detail, these stories also touched on universal themes: creating and maintaining families, making do with limited resources, adjusting to new environments—a sort of urban Little House on the Prairie.

Looking back, I think that what made these stories resonate for me in particular was the window they offered into a world that was totally unfamiliar, yet felt strangely like they also belonged to me. I knew that the world the books described—the sights and sounds of the Lower East Side, the weekly rituals in preparing for Shabbat, the passing of time marked through the Jewish holidays—was somehow part of my story too.

And, perhaps the seeds planted by those stories are what nudged me on the track of my adult life—living in New York City on the Upper West Side (perhaps a modern day version of the Lower East Side). After all, I am living here—not in a sod house in Kansas.

Wednesday, November 5 join JWA at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for an evening celebrating the re-issue of the All of a Kind Family books! A lively panel discussion will include biographer June Cummins, writers Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister, historian Hasia Diner, and publisher Lizzie Skurnick. Learn more here

Topics: Fiction
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How to cite this page

Mednick Owen, Lisa. "Welcome Back, All of a Kind Family!." 30 October 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 24, 2021) <https://jwa.org/blog/welcome-back-all-of-kind-family>.

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