23 March 2022

Book Review: Roots for Kids by Susan Provost Beller

I was gifted two books from Genealogical Publishing Company to review. Both are by author Susan Provost Beller. One is Roots for Kids A Genealogy Guide for Young People, 3rd Edition and the other one is Roots for Kids Finding Your Family Stories.

Roots for Kids A Genealogy Guide for Young People is an introduction to genealogy and was updated in 2020. A lot has changed since the first publication of this book, in 1988. Beller says the material can be used in three ways: as a twelve-week enrichment class; as a four-to-five-week mini course; and as a self-taught genealogy course. The book is comprised of twelve chapters that covers family, local, state, and national records, analysis, evaluation, and ends with an ultimate field trip where Beller tells her own genealogy story.

Reading the book, I felt for it to be used as a self-study book, the student would have to be a very motivated, self-starter learner. There is a lot of reading in each chapter. It would work well with adult guidance, but I think it would work better as a teacher's guide for classes or mini lessons.

The book is filled with the author's experiences and stories, definitions, charts, and homework. The homework applies to information you will use in the following chapter. The information is presented in an orderly manner, the way genealogy research should be done. Each concept builds upon another.

The 102-page book is filled with all the information a beginning genealogist would need. For independent learners, I would recommend this book for motivated fourth graders, but it would be better for middle school age students and above. For classes and lessons, I would recommend it for fourth grade and above. Again, it is for beginning genealogists. Those who have already conducted family history research would find the book redundant.

Chapters Include:

  1. An Introduction to Genealogy
  2. You and Your Family
  3. Your Parents' Family
  4. Asking Questions: Genealogy as Oral History
  5. Putting It All Together
  6. Kinds of Records Found Locally
  7. Finding Local Records on the Internet
  8. Kinds of State and National Records
  9. Finding State and National Records on the Internet
  10. Evaluating Your Information
  11. Research Around the World on Your Computer
  12. The Ultimate Field
Appendices including Blank forms and Resources for Researching Your Family

No matter who uses the book, I am happy to see that there are resources available for children and teens who want to pursue their family history. It is an area where more is needed.

2. Roots for Kids Finding Your Family Stories is a companion piece to the Roots for Kids book above. It contains short easy to read chapters that can be used individually or a class writing prompts. The first eleven chapters includes a story, an explanation of what is of genealogical value in the story, definitions, and tips on how to get the information for a story. The last few chapters explain how to organize your stories, records that help, and information if you want to go further in your research.

This book could be used as a stand-alone if the person has some knowledge of conducting genealogy research. It could be used in a class setting, a group session, or for individuals. 

The stories told keeps the readers interest and will spark curiosity in the reader. It even sparked my curiosity to write family stories about heirlooms. Some children may enjoy the story aspect of genealogy rather than just the facts. Wherever one's interest lies let them start. The important thing is to keep their interest. 

Chapters Include

  1. It all begins with one story
  2. "Witch" people are my family?
  3. Fact and Fiction
  4. Where were you when?
  5. Everyone's favorite topic-Food
  6. Butch, Baker, Chandler understanding last names
  7. First names can tell stories, too!
  8. Home, sweet home!
  9. Mapping your World
  10. George Washington visits Disney World
  11. You are one in a million!
  12. Organizing your stories
  13. Things that can help
  14. Take a family field trip to your past
  15. History is, after all, just lots of stories

Susan Provost Beller Roots for Kids books are needed when it comes to engaging young people in genealogy research. You can't go wrong with either of these books if you are interested in children and teens learning more about their family history. Do you need help engaging your youngsters in genealogy? This would be a good place to start.

If you are interested in purchasing either of these books, go to Genealogical.com

Disclaimer: I received review copies of each of books, but the opinions are mine alone.


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