Before you start writing, it helps to make a simple guide to follow. Take out one of your spiral notebooks or open a new file on your computer. Let’s start with your childhood years. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A guide could look similar to the following. Although this article is written with Americans in mind, most of the same questions would apply to people living in any country. If you understand English, please join us in the adventure of writing your book about your life.
A. Information about birth… location, hospital, date, time, weight, length, parent’s and grandparent’s names. If your parents are still living, ask about your birth, who was there, any special celebration, list older siblings names and ages.
B. Ask parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, grandparents about you as a toddler and young child. Ask about:
- funny things you did as a child
- your hobbies
- your pets
- favorite toy
- what you liked to eat
- when you learned to ride a bike
Okay, you get the idea. This is special and fun information to pass on to the next generation. When your great grandson or granddaughter discovers you had the same favorite toy or you liked cold pizza for breakfast too, it will form a bond with them and you even if they never met you in person. What seems like silly and unimportant details are very important to future generations. It tells them where they came from and who they are! That’s something everyone wants to know.
C. Write everything you can remember about your school years from the beginning. Mention the teachers you liked best, your favorite classes, your best friends, games you played during recess, your grades, and school activities you participated in. So many things have changed for today’s children. Most of the games they play are on the computer or tablets. They will find what you did fascinating.
D. Describe the home or apartment you grew up in. If you moved often, list all the places you lived. If your father was in the military and you lived on a base, tell what that was like. Did you live in more than one state when you were growing up? Did your family live with your grandparents? Were you adopted? Everything about your childhood is special and important to your present and future generations. Did you live in a big city, a small town, or in the country? Did you grow up on an American Indian reservation? Were you born in one country and migrated to another? Describe your childhood memories of the places where you lived.
E. Tell about your family. Your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins. How did you celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other special events. Did you live near some of your relatives? What did you do with your cousins? Did you ever spend the summer with grandparents or an aunt and uncle? Did anyone in your family live on a farm? Did you have a cousin that was also your best friend? Did your family attend a church, synagogue, or mosque? Where was it located, and what was the name?
F. Include both the good and bad experiences in your life. Everyone experiences sadness and trials in their life, and these should be included if you want your story to truly represent you. Family deaths should be included. They may be the result of old age (grandparents or gr. grandparents), a serious illness, an accident, or because of a crime. They are all a part of you and who you are. Poverty, abuse, serious sibling rivalry, illness, disabilities, and other trials contributed to making you who you are today and should be included if you want to leave an accurate record.
G. Some families are talented in music, others in dance, still others in art. Whatever your talents are, they may well be present in the grandchild reading your story. It’s another way that genetics connects us to future generations. You will be someone’s ancestor someday. With technology developing rapidly, most of them will know nothing about the lifestyle you lived. It’s your job to tell them through photographs and stories. Did you write music, sing, dance, write stories or poems? Did you play football, soccer, tennis, baseball, hockey, or basketball? Did you ski, skateboard, surf, roller skate, or do bike tricks? This is the time it’s okay to brag a little, and if you have a photograph of you on your bike in mid air, include it. Your great grandchildren will be saying WOW! You can inspire future generations when they get to know you and what you accomplished in life.
PART TWO will help you compile the rest of the information you need for your book.