Rich in Kindness, Poor in Money

allkindfamily

When I was appointed to our local library board, the City Librarian asked me to write a brief piece about my own early library and reading experiences. The moment that I spied the book “All of a Kind Family” in my school library remains so vivid and important to me that I had no trouble responding. The answer had always been there.

I fell permanently in love with books and with libraries on a rainy day in second grade. Already a reader, I became enthralled with the “bigger-kid” paperbacks in the school library that spun on their own gold rack. Something about one book in particular really jumped out. The book was Sydney Taylor’s “All-of-a-Kind Family”. On its cover was a drawing of five similar girls, of various heights, wearing matching pinafores and high-topped boots. I checked the book out and began devouring its tales of family and neighbors on New York’s Lower East Side, in the early 1900s, a group “rich in kindness, though poor in money”. I read about penny candy and Roman candles, pushcart peddlers and the power of imagination in tough times. I went on to read the book’s three equally enthralling sequels and, when my daughter was in second grade, I read “All-of-a-Kind Family” to her. I still have my original copy of this book, which I was given, and which has followed me across the country and back, perching on multiple bookshelves in multiple homes. To this day, I’m rarely without a book to read and I’m still a sucker for the library’s spinning gold rack, even if it happens to look more like the New Fiction shelf.

Most lifelong readers can probably conjure a similar memory. What’s yours?

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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2 responses to “Rich in Kindness, Poor in Money

  1. I too loved the All of a Kind Family books. One of my other favorites was Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (happily back in print from Harper Collins). A number of years ago I led the Greater NY Chapter of the Betsy-Tacy Society on a tour of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, then on to Katz’s (from When Harry Met Sally) for fabulous brunch and discussion of AOKF. It was lovely to introduce the book to some while for others it was a nice reunion with a childhood favorite.

  2. Hi Constance,

    I’m thrilled to meet someone who obviously appreciates All of a Kind Family as much as I do. Those books — their vivid adventures and warmth — will always mean a great deal to me. I will have to connect with Betsy-Tacy. It’s nice to know new discoveries await!

    I also love that you led a tour at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. It sounds terrific! I adore that museum and got to take two different tours when I was there last summer. It’s incredible that whole tenements have been re-created. I spent time learning about of the 1860s Irish family and the turn-of-the-century Jewish garment workers, who are a lot like the All of a Kind Family characters, as well as my own ancestors.

    I also visited your delightful blog,

    http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/

    and I hope to do so again soon.

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