November 2, 2009

Family Stories Month

November is the month to spend with family and close friends. And a family gathering is never quite complete until a wonderfully vibrant or hysterically funny and embarrassing story has been told about a family member. Remember that time Uncle Stan...

Yes, there are numerous stories, anecdotes, and legacies that you not only want to hear once, but you want to preserve. What better way to make sure that these stories are handed down for generations than to write a book about them? Whether your book is a memoir complete with a publisher, a scrapbook, or an audio-video recording of grandpa rattling on while grandma corrects him, your family stories and history deserve a place in the future.

Ideas of Memories, Traditions, and Other Family Gems worth recording:

-Childhood Tales

-Favorite Family Recipes

-Family Tree

-Family Health History

-Courtship Stories

-Traditional Holiday Celebrations in the Family



-Immigration Stories

-Daily Life (How did you travel? How did you prepare food? What toys did you play with? What did your home look like? What did you learn in school? Did you have pets? What did your family like to do together? Etc.)

Don’t forget tons of photos, plus audio and video. I know now that my father has passed away we have realized how much he was behind the camcorder and how little he was actually in front of it. If the same person always records your family gatherings, be sure to steal the camera now and again so you will have some visuals to remember them by as well.

In the meantime, here are a few family stories for children and adults to keep you entertained and to inspire you to find out more family stories of your own:

Children’s Books

1. Me and My Family by Joan Sweeney and Annette Cable

2. The Family Book by Todd Parr

3. All Families Are Special by Norma Simon and Teresa Flavin

4. All Families Are Different by Sol Gordon and Vivien Cohen

5. Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove

6. Families by Ann Morris

7. Families Are Different by Nina Pellegrini

8. Mary Cassett: Family Pictures (Smart About Art) by Jane O’Conner and Jennifer Kalis

9. H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet by Devin Scillian and Victor Juhasz

10. Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family’s Farm by Michael J. Rosen

11. Meghan’s World: The Story of One Girl’s Triumph over Sensory Processing Disorder by Diane M. Renna and Regina Stark

Family Memoirs

1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

2. Sweep the Floor or Feed the Cat: A Childhood Memoir of Being Underfoot by Lucille Peoples

3. Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away by June Cross

4. May and Amy: A True Story of Family, Forbidden Love, and the Secret Lives of May Gaskell, Her Daughter Amy, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones by Josceline Dimbleby

5. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

6. A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer

7. This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti by Victoria Gotti

8. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

9. Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

10. Life Al Dente: Laughter and Love in an Italian-American Family by Gina Cascone

11. My Little Dysfunctional Family Album by Sean Maher

12. I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family by Susan Konig

Any plans to celebrate Family Stories month with your family?


  1. Great post! I've read several of the ones listed.

    Since I've had a child I've gotten into scrapbooking and collecting pictures and things for his treasure chest. But the one thing I really like doing is keeping an adventure journal of him and I. I was laid off last March and I decided to turn my shock into making it the best time ever with my son. So we pulled him out of daycare and every day he and I went on an adventure (whether it was to the backyard or the library or a museum, etc), I took pictures and wrote a little story about it in his journal. It is now super thick full of all the fun we had this spring and summer. I hope he will look back on it in fondness like I will.

  2. I have been recording my family story for about two years now- researching my family history on. I didn't know that this was family stories month, but maybe this would be a good time to put some of what I've learned in an album.

    I love family stories- I have a big family and we all love to talk. We're an odd bunch...I think that is why I love David Sedaris' books so much (particularly Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I can tell that he loves his family.

  3. This is a really great article Rebecca, about the context of collecting and sharing family stories with some good perspectives, ideas and recommended reads. We all have stories but tend to get so preoccupied with the day to day details that we forget to sit down and celebrate our stories until it's often too late. Thanks for the nudge!

  4. Nice post idea. We had a funny video of my grandma that cracks me up when I see it. In the corner my dad keeps teasing her, so you see her lose her "sweet" composure for the guy interviewing her to snap at my dad. It's hilarious, and we're all so glad we have her funny little moments like that...even more than the rest of the interview.

  5. What a cool post!! I'm a scrapbooker and so I've been recording a lot of family memories for a while. But I keep telling myself that I have to write down all the stories of my grandparents that I can remember. This way my kids and their children will be able to know my grandparents.

  6. I'm interested in reading Life Al Dente, #10 in your second list. I've not heard of that, but I can imagine how wonderful it would be. You really posted a lot of great titles here, and you made me aware of a topic I hadn't thought about in awhile. There are so many ways to make a family, and so many ways a family can help each other...One of my favorite children's books is A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams. It's just beautiful.

  7. I didn't know it was family stories month, so I didn't have plans to do anything for it. :)

    My grandfather used to tell this story whenever the family got together about my aunt on a family vacation to South Dakota. My aunt HATED it because it was totally embarrassing, so of course me and my brother would be like, "Tell the squashed beehive story again, Grandpa!" Well, he died last year, and I have to admit I was wondering what we'd do without the squashed beehive story. But fortunately, my dad has taken it upon himself to tell the story now when we get together. :D

  8. Great post! I wish my grandparents were still alive to ask them stories this holiday. But I guess with my parents in their 70's, it's time to make sure we've asked them to tell all.

  9. I love family stories. For many of us, they are our number one way to participate in story-telling. And I love that they can encourage kids and adults to record them for posterity as you suggest, Rebecca. We're so lucky to be living in a time where technology enables us to do this easily. Sites like Animoto and PhotoPeach, and programs like Microsoft's Photo Story and Mac's iMovie mean we can manipulate digital images and text to make a wonderful family keepsake.

  10. I guess people don't hardly write cards or notes or letters anymore - everything is pre-printed or texted or e-mailed. But I love going through my old shoe boxes overflowing with letters from pen pals when I was a girl, cards from my relatives, notes passed in school from by BFF's and sweet cards with love notes inside from my hubby. Reading through my old diary/journals is entertaining too. Comparing my current opinions to those I displayed in college papers is always fun too. It's enough paper to start a large fire, but it is all special to me because it represents pieces of me in a variety of stages throughout my life.

  11. How in the world did I miss this post back in November???? Great ideas and great book list!! Thank you!!

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