October 11, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: All-of-a-Kind Family

I adored the All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor as a kid. They're a series of books about five sisters: Ella, Henrietta (Henny), Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie, ages 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4.

They live in a tiny apartment in turn of the 20th century New York City. Their family is devoutly Jewish, and the girls' lives are regulated by school, their Friday trip to the library, and their weekly Sabbath celebration.

It's funny, because I never realized it till I reread All-Of-A-Kind Family, but a lot of what I know about Jewish culture, I got from these books. They discuss the foods they eat, the major Jewish holidays, and how life functions in a poor, hard-working Jewish family. Their father is a "rag man" - who collects rags from peddlers, and then bundles them and sells them. Their mother is a very busy woman, who keeps their tiny apartment spotless and keeps five little girls neat and tidy in their dresses and petticoats and itchy woolen stockings. As the eldest, organized Ella and tomboyish Henny are the leaders, but all five girls are sweet and full of character - even when a very big surprise comes to the All-of-a-Kind-Family at the end of the book!

All-of-a-Kind Family

This would be a great book to read aloud to a younger kid chapter by chapter, because each chapter pretty much stands alone. Several  center on their visits to the library, one is about the five girls shopping for a birthday gift for Papa, in one chapter Gertie and Charlotte sneak crackers into their bed, and in another chapter Sarah and Ella get scarlet fever. Other chapters cover Rosh Hashanah, the 4th of July, and a trip to Coney Island. 

I'm sad to see that most of the books in the series are out of print (All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown is $45 used!). I hope they get re-issued soon!

Have you read the All-of-a-Kind Family books?

Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommended age: 6 and up
This post is day eleven of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.