This February (2023), I joined host Tracy Moore on Cityline—North America’s longest-running daytime talk show for women—sharing some ideas for documenting your family’s stories!
Legacy Books And Other Ideas To Document Your Family’s Story
Segment originally aired February 6, 2023.
What is a Legacy Book?
As I’ve gotten older I’ve been wanting to connect more with my culture and heritage.
Sometimes that means learning to cook Vietnamese recipes with my mom, and other times that means asking dad how he used to celebrate holidays back in Vietnam.
They’ve told us kids life stories and memories here and there and I’ve always thought their story would make an interesting book. And it turns out, that’s a thing!
They’re often called legacy books. It’s this idea that you should be documenting your parents stories, perspectives, experiences, before its too late. You basically interview them to find out really simple or deep things about them and dive into their memories and childhood.
How do you Create a Legacy Book?
There are a few options for legacy books.
There is a legacy book called Storyworth, which is designed to have you work at it each week for a year. You sign up to use the service, then get weekly questions or prompts that inspires a memory or conversation with your parents, questions like what was your first big trip, how did you get your first job, did you date someone in high school? Their responses are then bound into a beautiful, customizable keepsake book they send to you at the end of the year!
You can also find simple journals to work on at your own pace. There’s ones called “Tell me your story, mom” or “Tell me your story, dad” and has over 200 prompts and short questions.
Do you know what your parents favourite snack is? Flower? Smell?
These are questions you don’t realize you won’t get a chance to know once they’re gone!
Audio or Video Books
You can also do video or audio versions of legacy books! Video interviews are getting popular, where you sit down and record your parents answering questions so not only do you get the information but you preserve footage of them too.
You can use your own phone, or some people actually hire professional videographers to put together their parents legacy videos. This makes a great gift as well.
There are also apps, like a free one called Remento, which has great story / question / conversation themes you can work through. It sends you prompts and asks for answers to be recorded via video or by uploading photos.
What are some other ways to document family stories?
Digitizing old family photos is also a great legacy project to undertake. You can use the PhotoScan app from Google or Microsoft Lens. Or simply just take pictures of photos with your phone! We should be cherishing these old photos and ensuring we can access them even if something were to happen to the physical prints.
All of what I’ve mentioned is really about knowing and understanding your family. So Family Trees might be a great project you work on with your parents too. It’s not just an elementary school assignment! There’s lots of different, free designs you can print online (try this template site or this template site).
For instance, I could not tell you the names of any of my grandparents or great grandparents (eep!!) We called them grandma and grandpa! I know, this is embarrassing but just highlights the need for this type of documentation.
These are things we should know and should be documenting!
Are there other ways to spend time with parents / get their stories?
Go on dates! If you want to do more fun things with your parents but maybe are stuck for ideas, you could try a popsicle stick date jar idea—but for parents!
Whether it’s once every month, quarter, year or maybe you live nearby and are ambitious and want to try something weekly. You can cook something together. Visit a park they’ve never been to before. Watch an old movie they used to love.
The ideas are endless and the spontaneity of what idea you might pull out of the jar is so fun, and while you’re having these ‘dates’ and spending time with your parents, some of these legacy stories and family details will more naturally come out.
Growing up my parents would try to give us life experiences and now I find I’m trying to give them life experiences. I took my mother e-biking for the first time last summer. Each year we do a U-pick at a fruit farm. I try to do a vacation with both parents every few years. I’m always trying to think of events I can take them to, or activities that might be new to them, “dates” we can go on, things we can do together before they maybe get too old to do it.
Depending on your relationship with your parents, I hope this segment makes you consider ways you might spend more time with your parents—and capture their stories / legacy!
Thanks again to Cityline for having me on the show! I love being one of their guest “experts!”
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