A family tree is a chart that represents family structures in a visual manner. The branches of a tree make an ideal roadmap for this kind of genealogical image.
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But constructing a family tree isn’t always easy. You may be familiar with your own generation and the generations immediately before and after yours. But anything much further back can be a little murky. Luckily, genealogy books and family tree workbooks can help you navigate your own family history. Read on for our recommendations.
Family Tree Fill-In Workbooks and Books for Children
Family trees can be a great way to educate your children on your family’s lineage. They give you an opportunity to explore history through a personal lens. These children’s books about family and history can help you get started.
1. Me and My Family Tree by Joan Sweeney
You have to learn how to crawl before you can walk. Me and My Family Tree is a great introduction to family history for kids between the ages of 3 and 7. It provides a simple family tree concept that can be built upon later. In this illustrated book, a young girl draws pictures of her closest family members and spells out how they’re all related to her.
The following roles are defined in ways that are easy for kids to grasp: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The cheerful illustrations will help grab the attention of even the youngest kids. This book is the perfect primer for kids on how we fit into our families.
2. My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić
My Family Tree and Me is another book for children between the ages of 3 and 7. It builds on the concepts explored in the first book on this list. It also explores the fact that our family tree is the result of two families coming together. It is laid out in an innovative manner. One side of the book discusses the narrator’s father and his relatives. The other side delves into the relatives on the mother’s side.
As the narrator lets the story unfold, it becomes evident where his physical characteristics come from. This book goes into the concept of great-great-grandparents, so kids get a better idea of how far back our families can extend.
3. The Family Book by Todd Parr
Family trees can be a surprisingly sensitive topic at times. Not all families look alike. Some households are headed by a single parent. Some households have two moms or two dads. You may be an only child, or you may have several siblings. Your parents might still be married to each other, or you might be part of a blended family.
It’s never too early to teach your kids that not every family looks like their own. Showing the complexity and diversity of families is a great way to instill empathy in your children. The Family Book is for kids aged 3 to 6, and it's a perfect introduction to the subject.
4. What a Family! by Rachel Isadora
What a Family! is another great book to showcase how diverse families can be. While the age range says 4 and up, this book is a little more sophisticated. It explains how we inherit certain physical characteristics from our family members.
The main character, Ollie, is in kindergarten. His grandfather shows him family photos so he can see who else shared certain features with him. His height, dimples, freckles, ears, and hair are all shared with various relatives.
This book also introduces some more obscure kinds of relatives. Specifically, it spells out the distance between second cousins and cousins once removed.
5. Climbing Your Family Tree: Online and Offline Genealogy for Kids by Ira Wolfman
Most of the books we’ve discussed so far are intended for young children. Climbing Your Family Tree is best for middle school kids. A version of this book was originally published in 2001. It still contains great information on more old-fashioned methods of genealogical research. This updated version is rounded out with more information on using the internet to augment family tree information.
This book talks about the kinds of documents that will be most helpful in constructing a family tree. It also explores routes of immigration, including Ellis Island. It helps orient genealogical research into history.
6. The Kids’ Family Tree Book by Caroline Leavitt
This is one of the most comprehensive kid-friendly family tree books you can buy. Part of what makes it so excellent is the educational component.
The Kids' Family Tree Book teaches aspiring genealogists how to conduct internet research into their ancestry. It also teaches them how to check the National Archives for documents like immigration records. Finally, it gives students guidance on how to gather information from their best resource — their family members. It helps guide kids through the kinds of questions they can ask to draw information from their relatives.
Children can learn about where their ancestors came from, what kind of jobs they had, and so much more. This book is geared toward kids between the ages of 8 and 12.
7. Memoir Your Way by The Memoir Roundtable
Memoir Your Way encourages teens to think creatively about the way they interpret the narrative of their family history. This book shows all the different ways you can explore your ancestry. You can curate recipes from your family and your culture.
You can retell your family’s stories from your own perspective. You can even tell your family’s stories in alternative mediums, such as through comics.
Family Tree Workbooks and Books for Adults
Children aren’t the only ones who can benefit from constructing family trees. Adults can use them as a way to learn more about their extended family. Check out these great books and workbooks to learn how to create a family tree of your own.
8. Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher by Drew Smith
When you begin constructing a family tree, you may be surprised by how much family information you stumble across. You’ll quickly discover that organization is crucial. You never know when you’ll need to refer to a particular historical record again. So establishing a clear organizational system is a must-do.
Organize Your Genealogy can help you get both your resources and time in order. This book is great for someone new to genealogy. It can also help establish genealogists who struggle to stay organized.
9. The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger
DNA test kits that trace people’s ancestry are all the rage lately. People are interested in them for a wide variety of reasons.
Adoptees sometimes take these tests to connect with their biological families. Some people want to see just how deep the roots of their family tree extend. The Family Tree Guide explores the rapidly growing field of genetic genealogy and also discusses DNA databases.
10. The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy by Kimberly Powell
Geneology literally goes back to the beginning of life as we know it. But beginners don’t need to learn all its intricacies yet. The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy provides a basic overview of the field.
Then it focuses on detailing steps that beginners should follow. This is the perfect book for someone just starting out in the field.
11. Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy by Sunny Morton
Many family historians get swept up in the magic of discovering new information about relatives. They leave intricately detailed records about their ancestors for future generations to learn. But they neglect to talk about the narrator of those stories—themselves.
Story of My Life gently prompts the family historian to include himself in the center of these stories. Like other family history books, it provides tips and exercises on how to refine storytelling. It also provides inspirational writing points to encourage storytelling.
12. The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising
The internet has undoubtedly made amateur genealogy a lot more accessible to a wider audience. But there are some things Google just can’t track down for you.
The Family Tree Problem Solver gives more advanced options for people who have hit a dead end. It guides you through the process of tracking down even the most elusive records.
13. 300 Questions to Ask Your Parents Before It’s Too Late by Shannon L. Alder
You may be interested in genealogy, but don’t know where to begin. Start by going to your parents. They have a whole treasure trove of memories just waiting to be discussed. If you’re not confident in your interviewing skills, this book is a great resource.
The easy questions in 300 Questions will open up brand-new lines of communication. It won’t just help you gain great stories, it can help you bond with your parents.
14. Evidence Explained: History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills
Amateur genealogists don’t just stop at collecting funny family anecdotes. They want to find plenty of evidence to support their findings. Evidence Explained is a detailed guide to help you learn how to cite an incredible array of sources.
Books and Workbooks About Family Trees for All Ages
There are many reasons you may want to create a family tree. You may want to connect with your heritage. You may want to help your children understand where they came from.
You may just want to create a gift for an upcoming family reunion. Whatever your motivation, these book and workbook recommendations can set you up for success.