When is the right time to talk to children about their ancestry, culture and family history? The co-author of Finding Family Treasure shares insights and strategies for teaching children about who they are.
The Importance of Learning About Family History for Kids
By K. I. Knight
There is a short window when children will soak up genealogy like a sponge, between three and twelve years of age. When children are old enough to understand family stories, it’s time to begin. The stories will open a child’s imagination and give them a sense of pride about who they are and where they belong. Then, if you can connect your family to a historical time or event, it will further connect them to their country. How do I know this? Personal experience. At the young age of three, my great-grandmother began to groom me as the family historian or what she called the “Keeper of the Ancestors.” Fifty-plus years down the road, I still remember the fascinating stories she told me.
By naturally stimulating a child’s curiosity, telling fascinating stories, they will automatically want more.
How do you begin? Family Time, along with these few tools, will have you well on your way.
- Photo albums
- Talk to family members (grandparents, Aunts, Uncles)
- Visit the Cemetery
Photo albums. Children love to look at pictures and hear stories, especially when “related” to them. Take the time to sit down with your children and show them pictures of their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents. If you don’t have these pictures, get on the internet, and start with a simple google search. There are free and paid research sites, depending on the depth you want to go. What you may find will surprise you!
Talk to family members. Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents always have funny stories they like to tell. Stories involving the parents of the children might resonate more than others. This will give the child a sense of belonging. Not to mention the time spent with other family members is irreplaceable.
Visit the cemetery. Cemeteries aren’t scary for kids until after they see the frighteningly scary cemetery movies. So, start young. Go for a picnic! Show your child where family members are buried. Tell them what happened to the family member. Walk amongst the ancestors and tell their stories. Don’t forget to point out the emblems, markers, and medallions on the headstones. They mean something!
Books. One reason we chose to write Finding Family Treasure is there aren’t a lot of books teaching children about who they are and where their families come from. All American families originated from another country at some point during history. When you discover these countries then look for books about the said country. Depending on age, you may want to look for picture books. The different maps, flags, and period clothing are always fun to reflect upon.
By naturally stimulating a child’s curiosity, telling fascinating stories, they will automatically want more. Take this opportunity to teach them what you, the parent, want them to know. In a world where critical race theory is being taught to our children, family genealogy gives control back to the parents. America is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. What we need to understand about America’s diversity is that we have more in common than we do indifferences. As Americans we all connect in one way or another. StacyMae Webb, a Genetic Genealogist and colleague said it best. “When young people discover their own ancestral history, it instills in them a new respect and pride in our shared American heritage.”
Enter for a chance to win a copy of Finding Family Treasure, along with a 1-hour genealogy consultation!
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
An autographed copy of Finding Family Treasure
A 1-hour genealogy consultation with Kathryn Knight, a genetic genealogist, and co-author of this book. Knight will provide guidance to establish a genealogy line for the recipient’s family, tailoring it to their needs.
Four (4) winners receive:
An autographed copy of Finding Family Treasure
Click the link below to enter. Good luck!
Title: Finding Family Treasure | Author: K. I. Knight and Jane R. Wood | Publisher: Melting Pot Press LLC | ISBN-13: 9781737337102
Publisher’s Synopsis: “Who are we?” Ms. Johansson asks her class of fifth graders. Her perplexed students soon discover the lesson she wants them to learn. While studying the founding of their country, the class is challenged to understand the melting pot that makes up the American people-both past and present.
With the help of a genealogist, students learn to navigate websites that introduce them to written records that have documented their families’ histories. Because the class is comprised of students with roots to many nationalities and ethnic groups, including African American, Native American, Mexican, Cuban, Irish, Italian, Polish, Scandinavian, Lebanese, and Japanese immigrants, the diversity in their own class becomes apparent.
To assist in their research, the teacher gives the students an assignment of interviewing their parents and grandparents, to learn more about the members of their families. One by one, the young people hear family stories connecting them to America’s earliest immigrants and settlers. The students also learn about historical events their ancestors witnessed or experienced, including the early settlement of Virginia, the American Revolution, the Underground Railroad, the Trail of Tears, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, early immigration processing at Ellis Island, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Holocaust.
As the story unfolds, some personal conflicts occur among the students, long-standing family tensions surface, and intergenerational relationships evolve. Complex issues such as privacy, adoption, diversity, immigration, slavery, and antisemitism are addressed in an age-appropriate manner.
Excited by what they have discovered, the students plan a program to share their findings with their families. Working together in small groups, they create a slide presentation of vintage photographs, a fashion show demonstrating various ethnic attire, music and food from different cultures, and visual displays showcasing military medals, artifacts, musical instruments, and family heirlooms.
Their family history project further inspires the students to want to do something more to honor past generations. With the help of a cemetery preservationist, they plan a clean-up day at a local graveyard in need of attention. Parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters join the class on a Saturday to help restore the final resting place of those who came before them.
As a result of their research project, the students not only discover personal connections to the past but also, in some cases, to each other.
Buy the book:
Meet the Authors:
Kathryn Knight, who uses the pen name K I Knight, is an international award-winning Author, Genetic Genealogist, American Historian, Keynote Speaker, and Cemetery Preservationist. Over the last thirteen years, Knight has documented more than 20,000 hours researching the first recorded Africans to arrive in the English settlement of Virginia in 1619. Her passion is unrivaled and strongly evident in her published writings.
Her literary work includes Fate & Freedom, a five star – Gold medal historical trilogy detailing the lives of the 1619 Africans, as well as her nonfiction work, Unveiled – The Twenty and Odd, for which she was awarded the Phillis Wheatley Literary Award by the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage.
Knight is a board member for several National Non-profit organizations and the member of numerous Genealogy, Historical and Literary Societies including the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society, Florida State Genealogy Society, Virginia Genealogy Society, Virginia Historical Society, Florida Historical Society, American Historical Association, Genealogy Speakers Guild, Association of Professional Genealogists, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Director of 1619 Genealogy. The mother of three adult children, Knight, lives in North Florida with her husband, Tom.
For more information, visit firstfreedompublishing.com.
Jane R. Wood is the author of five award-winning juvenile fiction books where she weaves history and science into stories filled with mystery, adventure, and humor for young readers ages 8-14. Students like her books because they’re fun. Teachers like them for their educational value. Wood is a former teacher, newspaper reporter, and television producer. She has a BA from the University of Florida and an MEd from the University of North Florida. Wood lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and is the mother of two grown sons and five grandchildren.
To learn more about her and her books, go to her website at janewoodbooks.com.
|Tuesday, January 25, 2022 ~ The Children’s Book Review ~ Virtual Book Tour Kick-Off|
|Wednesday, January 26, 2022 ~ Shooting Stars Mag ~ A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Thursday, January 27, 2022 ~ Writer with Wanderlust ~ A guest article by K.I. Knight and Jane Wood The Importance of Learning About Family History For Kids|
|Friday, January 28, 2022 ~ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers ~ A guest article by K.I. Knight and Jane Wood Discussing Diversity and Family in the Classroom|
|Monday, January 31, 2022 ~ The Fairview Review ~. A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Tuesday, February 1, 2022 ~. The Momma Spot ~ A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Wednesday, February 2, 2022 ~ Heart to Heart ~ Author interview with K.I. Knight and Jane Wood|
|Thursday, February 3, 2022 ~ Lisa’s Reading ~ A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Friday, February 4, 2022 ~ Crafty Moms Share ~ A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Monday, February 7, 2022 ~ A Dream Within A Dream ~ A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Tuesday, February 8, 2022 ~ icefairy’s Treasure Chest ~ A guest article by K.I. Knight and Jane Wood How Family Stories Connect Us|
|Wednesday, February 9, 2022 ~ Me Two Books ~ A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
|Thursday, February 10, 2022 ~ Because I Said So ~. A book review of Finding Family Treasure|
A sincere thank you to The Children’s Book Review, K. I. Knight and Jane R. Wood for their contributions to this post.