The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman and illustrator Bagram IbatoullineSo, one of my genealogy related projects this month was a preschool storytime for work which meant I had to track down great books to interest kids in talking about their families and their stories. My fabulous find for the year was The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman and illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline. It’s wonderful!

This picture book begins with a great-grandfather asking his great-granddaughter to pick anything in a memory filled room and he would tell her a story. She picks an old cigar box and so begins the diary he started as a child in Italy before he could read or write and continued as his family immigrated to the United States. The story is hard and beautiful, the art work amazing and detailed. It’s a perfect book to share to talk about the immigrant experience and family stories. It is a bit long for a storytime but my fabulous children’s librarian reminded me that you can skip around with this age group, so a few properly placed paperclips made it just right.

For my craft portion of the day I gave them all  plain boxes to decorate and keep their memories in. They decorated with markers, puffy letters, and assorted bits o’stuff we keep in the closet—in other words glue stick fun!

Other great picture book picks:

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan—a wordless fantastic masterpiece about the immigrant experience.
  • Grandpa Green by Lane Smith—a great-grandfather’s life story in topiary.
  • All Kinds of Family by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marc Boutavant—on the broad concept of family.

Do you know of other good family history related reads for kids? Please pass them on!

Happy hunting,

Jess

Things might get a little spotty here as I we work through changes at my day job—I can’t believe I missed Wordless Wednesday!—But hopefully I’ll be able to get reorganized quickly.

Nephew #1 on a computer

I don’t know if it will last or what he will retain but my almost nine-year-old nephew, inspired by his mother who has discovered

Ancestry.com, asked me if I would show him how to make a tree (online, of course) like his mom. So, last Sunday we met up at my parents and sat down with my laptop and got started. He quizzed/interviewed my parents for their full names and birthdates and birthplaces and the names of their parents. Taking the hint that my father was a Junior so his father’s name was probably…?  It’s a bit of a trick question as my Grandpa changed the spelling of his name somewhere along the way.

My nephew then started a private tree in Ancestry that I’ve shared with his mother as a full editor so he can work on it with her as well.  I was fascinated watching him enter in the information and think of more questions. And I was doubly impressed when he started really thinking out the hints that he was offered through Ancestry.com. He really looked at what the records said, pulling up the originals and actually listening to the stories I was telling—no, really,  you have to understand, my leading complaint is that he doesn’t listen—so that he  caught a few errors in the indexing before I got to them. He was reading through the page for himself, asking thoughtful questions, spelling things mostly on his own, and he didn’t want to stop for dinner—which was an issue because, among other things, I didn’t want Parmesan cheese in my laptop.

I am so thankful for that afternoon which has gotten me through a rough week. I had a wonderful time and I hope he did too!

Happy hunting,

Jess

One of my non-travel experiences for Family History Month was my extensive prep for a genealogy for kids class to presented at work. I spent a lot of time collecting great resources and coming up with funny family stories, neat resources, artifacts they could get their hands on. I put together a “treasure box” of neat stuff—my great-grandmother’s locket that they let my grandmother use when she was teething, a variety of pictures, postcards, documents, and more. I created a high-graphic slideshow, I had craft ideas, and even resources for parents. I even tested ideas out on my oldest nephew.

The only thing I didn’t get … were attendees.

I was more than a bit disappointed. But we’ll try floating the program one more time in the summer and see what happens. In the meantime though, I found a lot of great resources that I think people need to check out. Here are a few of the websites I found interesting and helpful.

Have you seen other sites you liked?

Happy hunting,

Jess

I was thrilled to find a new picture book by Caldecott Honor illustrator Lane Smith (It’s a Book) that had a fabulous family history theme just in time for Family History Month. In Grandpa Green, a little boy tells the story of his great grandfather’s life against the backdrop of a topiary garden of memories. The grandson walks through the garden picking up items his grandfather has forgotten while he tells the story of the man born before cell phones and computers who wanted to be a horticulturalist but instead went to war, met his wife in Paris, had lots of kids, grandkids, and one great grandson—the narrator. Each section of text is accompanied by a corresponding illustration of the grandfather’s garden where his memories live on. The detail in the topiary garden is amazing and the story is moving. It’s a well-constructed book with something for children and adults. And it would be a great conversation starter when talking about family history with a child. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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