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

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