Share Family History

How do we impart to the younger generation an appreciation for experiences of those before? Can we engage children and adults in conversations about the differences and similarities of their lives?

This is a typical exchange:
(Older Man) “Son when I was your age, we had to …” (Young child) Blank stare.

To some extent, we are losing touch with our family heritage. No one wants to inherit the boxes of family pictures and old diaries anymore. Videos, computer games and MTV are today’s orators, so it’s little wonder that our children won’t sit quietly with grandma and grandpa.

Is it inevitable that our children and elders drift further apart?

No, there are ways to pass the stories from generation to generation. Life story books are one such way to engage the whole family. Life story books capture the life of an individual using words and pictures. These books might begin at birth or focus on a particular year or event in someone’s life. Even children with little or no writing skills can participate.

What you will need:

  • Paper (white or colored)
  • Markers, pens, crayons
  • Photographs (bring originals to copy center for duplication)
  • Glue & tape
  • Stickers (many craft stores now have “old fashioned” stickers)

A life story book is similar to a scrap book except it tells the story of one person. Let’s take the example of an 80 year old grandmother, 45 year old daughter and 12 year old grandson who are creating life story books.

The grandson wants to begin with his birth. He looks through his baby book and asks questions about his first days of life. He finds baby pictures and puts together a page showing the events. Mom puts together a page about her own birth. She asks grandma for more details. Their discussion brings to light differences between mom’s birth and her son’s. The grandson learns that hospitals and medical care were different when mommy was born. Grandma tells the story of her own birth to continue the dialogue.

After a while, the trio completes a few chapters of their life stories. Some time later, there is enough material to make copies for other family members. This is one history lesson everyone is sure to enjoy!