Creating a Family History Book

The following was written by contributor Catherine Way of Adventures With Kids.

This giveaway is now closed.  The winner will be announced in Sunday’s Weekend Links post.  Thank you!
I’ve always enjoyed reading and learning about history.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I became quite interested in our family history.  It was whilst I was pregnant, that my husband’s grandmother died.  The thought that my son would now never know his great-grandmother prompted me to create a book for our child about his family. This would give my son a little information about his family heritage.

A Family History Book

To create the book, I compiled a list of questions and sent it to the members of our family to answer. I chose to use written questions rather than an interview, because our family is scattered around the world.  Using written questions also gave people the option of choosing which questions to answer and what information to reveal, without pressure.

I also collected photos of family members at significant stages in their lives: as a child, when they were married, while traveling and so on.

Questions to Ask

Questions in my survey included basic family tree information (name, date of birth, place of birth and so on), a little about things each person had done during their life (where they have lived, jobs they have done and so on) and questions about their beliefs (such as, what makes you angry?  what things do you think are important in life?).

Family Tree Facts

  • What is your full name?
  • When and where were you born?
  • Where and when were you married?
  • If you want to include deceased family members, date and place of death.

Interview Questions

  • In what places have you lived?
  • What types of jobs have you worked at?
  • What hobbies or other interests do you have?
  • What strengths have you developed over your life?
  • What has been important about your life?
  • What are some of the things that you think are wonderful?
  • What makes you angry?
  • What are some of the important things you’ve learned in your life?
  • My favourite memory of your mum/dad …
  • My greatest wish for you (the child for whom you are making the memory book)…
  • My prediction of what life will be like in 20 years …
  • Anything else you’d like to say …

I compiled the answers to the questions and the photos as a book.  Here are some sample pages from my book (please note, I have removed some identifying information before posting the pages here).

Here is an example of the pages I created about each person, with their photos and answers to my questions:

Image by Catherine Way

I also created pages with family stories about me and my husband, people’s thoughts on what is important in life and messages for my son:

Image by Catherine Way

And I included a family tree.  You can see one half of our family tree in the picture at the beginning of this post.

Creating the Book

I had everything printed as a hardcover book.  I felt a hardcover book would provide the most accessible, durable memento for my child.

I created this book when my eldest son was still a baby.  Now that I have more experience with young children, there are a couple of things I’d change.  I think I could have used easier to read fonts and formatting in my book to help inexperienced readers.  Also, I would add each person’s relationship to my son (eg. grandmother, father) to the pages.

Creating the book was a very enjoyable experience for me and I learned a lot of things about my family and my husband’s family. My son is still too young to read this book for himself, but he loves to hear family stories, especially ones about me and his dad growing up.  I think that as he gets older this book will give him a place to start learning family stories and a way to connect to the members of his family.

More Ideas

There are plenty of other ideas for telling family stories in a book. You could try creating:

  • A book of family faces (This would be wonderful for a baby)
  • An A to Z of  of your family
  • Tell the story behind some favorite family photos

A Scrapblog Giveaway

Hi, everyone!  This is Kara.  I wanted to thank Catherine for her article on family history books.  I’m especially intrigued by the idea of creating a photo book with the stories behind some favorite family photos and I think that is going to be the project I put together for my kids.

I also wanted to let everyone know that the generous folks at are giving one lucky Simple Kids reader the chance to win a hard cover photo book!

This giveaway, a $49.99 value, includes:

  • One 12 x 8 hard cover photo book
  • 500 credits to the site

To Enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post answering the following question: How do you share family stories and history with your children?
  • Bonus entry #1: “Like” on Facebook – and then come back here and leave a separate comment letting us know you’ve done so
  • Bonus entry #2: “Like” Catherine’s blog Adventures with Kids on Facebook – and leave a separate comment that you’ve done so
  • Bonus entry #3: subscribe to Simple Kids – and leave a separate comment that you’ve done so, or if you’re already a subscriber, let me know

Please note:  Winners outside the US will be responsible for the shipping cost.

This giveaway will be open until Midnight EST November 6th, 2010. The winner will be selected by Random.Org and announced in this Sunday’s Weekend Links post.  Good luck!

Promo Code

And, that’s not all! has also created a unique promocode for Simple Kids readers.   The code SimpleKids20 is good for 20% off of a  photobook (includes hard and soft bound books) OR 1 calendar, OR 100 greeting and/or postcards. The promocode expires on 12/31/2010.

About Catherine

Catherine Way is mum to two boys living in North Australia. They read lots, run lots, love to learn new things and are good at finding fun and mischief. Catherine blogs about her family adventures and passion for lifelong learning at Indirect Observations.

Online Knitting Class
Delightful kids' crafts delivered to your door!  See sample crates>>


  1. We talk about the photos displayed on our walls or in frames … my Dad who passed away before they were born, our stillborn baby (not her photo but a remembrance image/poem) …
    we also use the computer to watch & make movies out of old photos.
    The family tree memory book is awesome. I think it would be great to do this and share our pages with family on Christmas day.
    Trish´s latest post: Random A

  2. Bonus entry #1: “Like” on Facebook
    Trish´s latest post: Random A

  3. Bonus entry #2: I “Like” Catherine’s blog Adventures with Kids on Facebook
    Trish´s latest post: Random A

  4. Bonus entry #3: I subscribed to Simple Kids -awesome site
    Trish´s latest post: Random A

  5. I’m already on the email list!
    Annie´s latest post: 30 Days of Thankfulness – Day 2

  6. We tells baby stories at bedtime – from their childhood and ours. My parents also tell our kids stories about their own childhood which my kids love!

  7. Rhonda C. says:

    During the holidays when we’re all together we share family history and stories. The younger children love listening to the stories and hearing about when their parents were young.

  8. Rhonda C. says:

    I became a fan of Scrapblog. com on facebook.

  9. Rhonda C. says:

    And I also became a fan of Adventures with Kids on Facebook.

  10. I have done traditional scrapbooks for our family along with a family journal of important events. We also tell our children stories of when they were younger. And they love to hear the stories from their grandparents.

  11. I am a subscriber of Simple Kids!

  12. through pictures and time with family members

  13. I subscribe in a reader

  14. My toddler loves to look at my scrapbooks. I also have so many pictures around the house and it’s fun to talk about them with her when she asks.

  15. Liked on facebook

  16. I am. Subscriber to Simple Kids 🙂

  17. nopinkhere says:

    We’re not particularly structured about it. We mostly just tell our son things about our childhoods as similar things come up in his life. (Like telling him about our first bikes when he got his.)

  18. nopinkhere says:

    I already am subscribed to Simple Kids in GoogleReader