I recently re-read the entire set of Sydney Taylor's childrens' books about a Jewish family in turn of the century New York City. They were every bit as sweet and genuine as I remembered. The six girls, plus a baby brother who gets born during the series, buy broken crackers and chocolate babies for a penny and invent secret bedtime rituals when they eat them; celebrate the holidays with feasting and joy; walk into the wrong apartment and eat someone else's dinner; and suffer kid-appropriate angst involving things like losing library books, suddenly refusing to eat soup for no apparent reason, and getting lost at Coney Island.

The food values and nostalgic details of a time long-gone are still charming, but another reason I loved those books is that they were almost the only novels I could find that were about Jewish children being happy and having ordinary problems. When I was a girl, childrens' books featuring Jews were so skewed toward Holocaust narratives that I eventually became scared to pick any up for fear that they would conclude in a concentration camp. And the ones that weren't about the Holocaust were generally about pogroms or anti-Semitism.

Books about genocide and prejudice against people like you are important and necessary. But books about people like you performing in the school play and being jealous of your baby brother are also important and necessary. Reading Taylor's books made me happy then, and they make me happy now. I wish there were more like them.

Click here to buy it from Amazon: All-of-a-kind Family
I recently re-read the entire set of Sydney Taylor's childrens' books about a Jewish family in turn of the century New York City. They were every bit as sweet and genuine as I remembered. The six girls, plus a baby brother who gets born during the series, buy broken crackers and chocolate babies for a penny and invent secret bedtime rituals when they eat them; celebrate the holidays with feasting and joy; walk into the wrong apartment and eat someone else's dinner; and suffer kid-appropriate angst involving things like losing library books, suddenly refusing to eat soup for no apparent reason, and getting lost at Coney Island.

The food values and nostalgic details of a time long-gone are still charming, but another reason I loved those books is that they were almost the only novels I could find that were about Jewish children being happy and having ordinary problems. When I was a girl, childrens' books featuring Jews were so skewed toward Holocaust narratives that I eventually became scared to pick any up for fear that they would conclude in a concentration camp. And the ones that weren't about the Holocaust were generally about pogroms or anti-Semitism.

Books about genocide and prejudice against people like you are important and necessary. But books about people like you performing in the school play and being jealous of your baby brother are also important and necessary. Reading Taylor's books made me happy then, and they make me happy now. I wish there were more like them.

Click here to buy it from Amazon: All-of-a-kind Family
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