Tell Me A Tale
Family stories—often told when different members gather together—serve as an informal family history. Sometimes these tales tell how a relative first came to America and how he or she managed to make a living against difficult odds, or they relate unusual events that may have happened. Such tales are treasured, told over and over, and passed on to younger generations. The Two Brothers is an important tale in the Eurich family. It has been passed on to younger kin by Henry’s grandsons Clesson and Edward.
Every family has its own tales to tell—your family included. Do this: Ask your grandparents, parents or an older friend to tell you a tale from their past. You and they will enjoy the experience, and some of the tales you hear could be just as amazing as The Two Brothers! Later, you might want to retell one of those tales in your own words. You might even want to publish it as a book with your own illustrations. If you do
- pen or pencil
- tape recorder (optional)
- 1.Draw up a list of five or six questions that you would like
to ask a family member. Think up questions that will make
the person talk about his or her life. The idea is to get
the person talking. Here are some examples:
- What was it like when you were growing up?
- What were some of the most memorable things that happened in your childhood?
- As a child, what did you do for fun?
- Did your parents ever tell you stories about their lives, or life before you were born? What were their stories?
- Where did our family come from?
- Interview the family member. Choose a quiet place in your house and ask your questions one by one. Listen carefully and write notes in your notebook so that you can remember what the person tells you. If you use a tape recorder, make sure it has a fresh tape in it and that you press RECORD. From time to time, check to make sure the tape recorder is working properly and that you haven’t run out of tape.
- Once you’ve finished with the interview, go over your notes or the tapes and choose a story to tell in your own words. Then write the story. You might begin with the old tried and true “Once upon a time...” Or you might find a different beginning.
- Once you’ve finished writing your story, think about turning it into a finished book with your own illustrations.
No matter how you choose to tell your tale, you should be proud that you have preserved a piece of your own family’s heritage!