Joni Kibort Sussman

Joni Sussman’s books include My First Yiddish Word Book and four Sesame Street board books focused on Jewish culture and traditions.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Among my favorites was the All-of-A-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor, which came out when I was a little girl. Sydney Taylor grew up in an immigrant family on New York City’s Lower East Side prior to World War I and wrote about that period. I loved these books because they featured a Jewish family at a time where there were virtually no other stories featuring Jewish families. The books shared the ups and downs in the lives of the family—five sisters and eventually their little brother, Charlie.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” —Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Among my favorites are Maurice Sendak, J. D. Salinger, and Madeleine L’Engle.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

In my case, as an experienced editor and the publisher of Kar-Ben, the opportunity simply presented itself.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Write and edit thoughtfully and then try your stories out in writers’ groups, focus groups, and with others who don’t know you and are likely to give you honest feedback.