A fairly easy way to record family history is to buy one of the many memory books available. These books have pages with questions to prompt memories and stories that can then be written directly into the book. You can find a “top ten” list of these family journaling books on genealogy.about.com. I suggest you do a search in Amazon.com for the books in that top-ten list because there you will find reviews from people who have actually used those books. “To Our Children’s Children,” the original version, or the second “To Our Children’s Children: Journal of Family Memories,” by Bob Greene, have received consistently good reviews. “Your Story: A Guided Interview Through Your Personal and Family History,” by Gift to the Future 2000, has also been rated well.
There are a few drawbacks to these books. One complaint of many journaling books is that there isn’t always enough room to write. Another complaint is that the books don’t really allow for deviation from the traditional – what about a second or third marriage, or single-parent household, or a childhood in another country. Some books seem to have way too many questions, or perhaps there are too many questions that bring up bad memories best left unwritten.
Many people have loved these journaling memory books, though. They can make a great gift for new grandparents. Review the selection of books carefully before buying so you will be happy with the format and questions. If you cannot find a book that is right for your family, perhaps you would prefer to just look over the questions to get ideas of what to ask your relative (or yourself). You can then write whatever you want in your own memory album or booklet – more on that later.
These books should not be viewed as a chore, but rather a pleasant pastime to be completed bit-by-bit throughout a year or more. There is no need to follow any order of questions or need to answer everything. Have fun and enjoy the flood of memories. Good or bad, memories are what have shaped us and in turn have helped shape our children.