I have found that since I began homeschooling (two years ago now) and since my second child has been born, I have refocused most of my reading energy to picture books and chapter books, especially those that I loved as a child.
This week I revisited the family of five girls, All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (originally published 1951).
I loved revisiting the East side of New York in 1912, visiting with the young girls as they experienced simple adventures, like getting a new library lady, cleaning the parlor, and celebrating the Jewish Sabbath. The simple becomes extraordinary when viewed through a lens of time. Going to market as a family was much more of an adventure than going to the grocery store is for us today. Yet, what will our children’s children think of the daily tasks we face in this day and age?
In addition to the historical look at an era long-passed, I also especially appreciated the glimpse into the Jewish faith. When I picked up the book, I recalled the girls and I remembered loving the stories. However, I had not remembered they were Jewish. This is such an integral part of their life story, however, and I loved it. I sometimes wish religious culture and tradition was still a part of children’s fiction. I realize, though, that in a modern age for many people it is not an integral part of their lives.
Would my son like it? I am not sure. The story focuses on the girls and there is abundant love of dolls that may turn off my son. However, the adventures (desire for candy, travel to the market, planning a party) are ones that youth of all eras can relate to. I’ll let him choose.
All-of-a-Kind Family is a great historical fiction. The best part is that many of the occurrences in the lives of the girls are based on events that Sydney Taylor experienced herself as an immigrant in the early 1910s in New York. What stories could I share with my children?