Telling Family Stories Through Children’s Books

by | Jun 3, 2021 | Featured Article | 0 comments

ReadersMagnet talks about the beauty of telling personal family stories through children’s illustrated books.

Family stories are very essential. They tell many things about our heritage. They explain certain aspects of our ancestor’s history, and they help us understand our family’s present. More importantly, these stories help preserve our family’s legacy and are handed from one generation to the next. In the past, family stories were handed over orally. Then as time passed by, some were able to write memoirs and diaries to preserve important details of the family. There were also creative means to preserve the family history, such as family trees and archives (family portraits, heirlooms, etc.) Today, many family and personal stories are preserved in published books, and a number of them are children’s illustrated books.

Family Stories Over the Years

There have been many family and personal stories published over the years. Many of them are biographies and memoirs about famous personalities told by family members and friends I DissentRuth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy). Others are family adventures and family history (Homeplace by Anne Shelby). Some are everyday stories (Aunt Flossie’s Hats and Crab Cakes Later by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard) and “misadventures” that create unforgettable moments (Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating). One author that has published personal children’s book stories is Nelibeth Plaza. The Red Oak Rocking Chair and Is It Santa? by Nelibeth Plaza are two heartwarming family stories based on actual events. The Red Oak Rocking Chair tells the story of one rocking chair that belonged to Nelibeth Plaza’s family for four generations. In the book, Plaza narrates creatively how the chair came to be in their possession and the memories they have shared with the said chair, both happy and not-so-happy ones. The other book, Is It Santa? is a Christmas family tale about a family trying to solve the mystery behind their missing cookies. The story is actually from one of Nelibeth’s former co-workers who had an actual encounter with a squirrel living in her attic.

Non-Fiction Children’s Stories

Family and personal stories made into children’s illustrated books are essential for children’s growth and learning progress. Just as illustrated math and science books are essential, non-fiction narratives rendered with drawings and colorful illustrations play a vital role in helping young minds know about their family, heritage, tradition, and values. Often, tales about family, history, and heritage are lengthy and tedious if told perfunctorily. Through creative writing and visual images, we can attract young readers and gain their interest in learning more about the stuff that truly matters. Many of these personal stories and represented through short tales, adventures, and interesting details, are sometimes added to make the narrative more exciting and appealing to kids.

With the advent of digital platforms and other convenient publishing format systems, family and personal stories are being published daily. The challenge is writing and telling these wonderful narratives so that others may discover them and that future generation may enjoy the memories, lessons, and wisdom that these stories possess. That said, it is safe to say that non-fiction children’s stories are here to stay.

Nelibeth Plaza is a former teacher and taught for twenty-seven years as an elementary teacher in the New York City Department of Education. She also served as an assistant principal. She has two grown-up daughters, Rebekah and Elizabeth, and three lovely grandchildren–Mya, Charlie, and Jacob. All of them are characters in her books, The Red Oak Rocking Chair and Is It Santa?

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