July is Roots & Branches (family history) month, and a good chance to check out books related to discovering family history and how past generations lived. Family Tree Magazine notes that when doing family history research, kids are usually less interested in the details (full names, dates and places of birth) than adults. Instead, kids love to fill out pedigree charts, look at old photographs, and learn how to play games their ancestors played. You can also make family history fun by creating a family memory box or scrapbook, interviewing family members, and by taking kids on a summer trip to a historical town or farm.*
*Stacy, Allison. “Genealogy Activities for Kids.” Family Tree Magazine. 28 September 2009.
Researching Your Family History
Where Did You Get Those Eyes? 1993.
A step-by-step guide for researching one’s family tree, from examining inherited traits to interviewing parents and relatives to going through genealogical libraries in search of lost ancestors.
[Education Storage S.929.1 C786W1993]
Ryan, Tony and Rodger Walker.
Life Story Work: A Practical Guide to Helping Children Understand Their Past. 2007.
This book is a resource for adults helping foster and adopted children discover their family history and form life stories even if they may not know their biological family members.
[Education Q. 362.733 R952l2007]
Taylor, Maureen A.
Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors. 1999.
Discusses genealogy, the study of one’s family, examining how such an interest develops, how to get started, how to use family stories and keepsakes, where to get help, and the positive effects of such study.
[Education Storage S.929.1 T216t]
The Brown Paper School Presents My Backyard History Book. 1975.
Activities and projects, such as making time capsules and rubbings and tracing genealogy, demonstrate that learning about the past begins at home.
[Education Oak St. Facility S.973.07 W439M]
Hobbler, Dorothy and Thomas.
The Scandinavian American Family Album. 1997.
This book is a pictorial and written record of the country left behind, the journey to America, and the group’s contributions to the United States. It contains period photographs, memorabilia, and selections from diaries, letters, memoirs, and newspapers. There are many more books in this series about additional immigrant groups by the same authors.
[Education Storage Q. S.973.04395 H76S]
The Changing Face of America: Hispanic Roots, Hispanic Pride. 2004.
Introduces the Hispanic American culture, its origins, history, variety, and impact on American society.
[Education S Collection S.973 K414c]
Lanier, Shannon, et al.
Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family. 2000.
A chronicle of the history of the descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, who were brought together in 1998 after DNA findings linked the two families’ bloodlines.
[Education S Collection S.973.460922 L272j]
Dreary Dwellings and Frightful Families. 2006.
Do people still live in caves? What terrible job did “gongfermors” do? How did pioneer families travel? Using dramatic photos and illustrations, this book explores various types of unusual dwellings and family living arrangements through the ages and across different cultures. Amazing facts and true stories merge with history to vividly set the scenes for readers.
[Education S Collection S.363.509 T664d]
Alexander, Keely and Velani Mynhardt Witthoft.
Davy Brown Discovers His Roots. 2009.
Davy needs to describe how his family originally came to America for a class project, but he is afraid his family does not have an immigration story.
[Education S Collection S.929 Al261d]
While compiling a genealogy of her family of successful attorneys, sixteen-year-old history buff Ivy Breedlove treks into the mountain wilderness to interview a reclusive aunt with whom she identifies and who in turn helps her to truly know herself and her family.
[Center for Children’s Books S.B326b]
The Gramma War. 2001.
Everything is going well in eleven-year-old Annie’s life — until she finds out that her ailing grandmother is coming to live with the family. In an attempt to help her cope with the changes, Annie’s parents enroll her in a local genealogical society where she grudgingly embarks on a journey to learn her family tree. In the process she discovers not only that her grandmother has a wealth of knowledge and stories about their shared family history, but that she was not always the angry old woman she seems to be.
[Education Storage S.B971g]
Rosy Cole Discovers America. 1992.
Disappointed in the poor European immigrant ancestors she discovers during a class project to research family roots, Rosy cooks up a clan of royal relatives.
[Education Storage S.G855RC]
Seven Brave Women. 1997.
A young girl recounts the brave exploits of her female ancestors, including her great-great-great grandmother who came to America in a wooden sailboat.
[Education Storage SE. H3514s]
Lainez, Rene Colato.
Rene Has Two Last Names. 2009.
In this story based on the author’s childhood, a young Salvadoran immigrant is teased for having two last names until he presents his family tree project celebrating his heritage. This book is in English and Spanish.
[Education S Collection Q. SE. C67r]
Shine, Coconut Moon. 2009.
Samar is an Indian-American teenager whose mother has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It’s never been a problem for Sam, until after 9/11. A man in a turban shows up at Sam’s house and turns out to be her uncle, who wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage.
[Center for Children’s Books S. M513s]
Nixon, Joan Lowry.
Search for the Shadowman. 1996.
While working on a genealogy project for his seventh grade history class, Andy Bonner becomes determined to solve the mystery surrounding a distant relative who was accused of stealing the family fortune.
[Education Oak St. Facility S.N654sea]
Schreck, Karen Halvorsen.
Lucy’s Family Tree. 2001.
Lucy’s adoption from Mexico makes her feel as though her family is too “different” for a family tree project at school, but she ends up creating a family tree that celebrates both her past and present. The back pages offer further suggestions for exploring family diversity.
[Education S Collection S.Sch71l]
A grandmother and grandchild trace their family history.
[Education Storage Q.SE. SH432H]
Me and My Family Tree. 1999.
Using a family tree, a child explains how her brother, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are related to her.
[Education S Collection S.929.1 SW35m]