Family History Comes Alive for Kids

Family History Comes Alive for Kids

Researching one’s ancestry was once thought of as a retired person’s pastime. Yet, according to Time and ABC News, genealogy has recently become the second most popular hobby in the United States (just after gardening) and literally spanning generations. With the ease of the internet, more young people have become part-time historians, diving into their pasts and discovering their heritage.

Part of Something Big

Vancouver parents of six children, Jonah and Charlotte Barnes, noticed how much their own children loved hearing stories of great-grandparents they had never met. One story their boys especially loved was of great-grandfather Merrill, who was a fighter pilot in World War II and captured as a prisoner of war. Not long after, Charlotte came across a piece in the New York Timestitled “The Stories that Bind Us” by Bruce Feiler. In the article, researchers explain how children “. . . who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.” Feiler explains why simple things such as knowing how your parents met, silly family traditions and stories of success and failure help children feel grounded in the “family narrative” and view life’s challenges through a wider lens. “It’s important for young children to be engaged in their family history now, so that when they are teenagers and are seeking for identity, belonging and a feeling of uniqueness, they can find it in their family that they already know so much about,” explains Charlotte.

Read the rest of this article in the full digital issue below.

More Family History Resources

Genealogy clubs and classes are held at Fort Vancouver Regional Library’s Three Creeks, La Center, and downtown locations. Learn more about all of FVRL’s genealogical resources at

Vancouver Washington Family History Center offers classes, volunteer helpers, access to computers and genealogical software and more.

Clark County Genealogical Society offers classes, seminars as well as a research library—all available to the public. 

Vancouver authors  of “Turning Little Hearts,” Jonah and Charlotte Barnes, are available to speak at genealogy groups, mothers’ groups, church groups, or parenting meetings and more. Learn more about their book here.

Sarah Mortensen recently completed her degree in marriage and family studies and works for Vancouver Public Schools as a paraeducator in addition to her role as associate editor of Vancouver Family Magazine. When Sarah is not reading to her kids or students, she is probably in her backyard taking care of her garden. She also enjoys hiking, hot chocolate, and dressing up for Halloween. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, son and daughter.

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