Sharing Grandma's Stories

Teaching children the importance of family is one of a parent's many jobs. But busy daily lives often mean forgetting the people and stories of our past.

"My Family Tales" offers a unique solution - storybook kits to help preserve family memories and pass them along to the next generation. Sharon Murdoch is the company's CEO and the guest for Monday's Perfect Parenting segment of The Early Show.

The company grew out of Sharon's daughter's book about her son's great-grandfather. People kept saying they'd love to do the same thing -- so Sharon and daughter Candace developed the company.

My Family Tales has three storybook kits to help you become the author of your very own 28-page book: Grandparent, Baby and Wedding.

The kit includes a blank, coil-bound storybook, colored paper (acid free), die-cuts, and an easy-to-use guidebook. The guidebook features writing tips, a selection of illustrations, storybook examples, layout ideas, poetry, and publishing options, should you choose to have the company professionally edit, bind, and publish multiple copies for you.

The Grandparent Storybook, for example, is divided into the following themes: family history; childhood; school days; interests & hobbies; young adult experiences; friends & family; home, career & interests; holidays & vacations; family life; fond memories; leaving a legacy. It also has a section for special memories and a family tree. The themes guide both the selection of images and writing of text.

Here are some of the writing tips it offers:

  • Be confident and do your best. Worry more about the ideas than grammar.
  • Include dialogue and quotations.
  • Sprinkle your story with humor.
  • Use all five senses: sound, taste, touch, smell, and sight.
  • "Show," don't "tell." Help your reader visualize the story. For example, instead of telling the reader, "Grandpa had to walk a long way to school," show the reader, "Grandpa used to walk five miles each way, in a blizzard, with ten frozen fingers and ten frozen toes!"
  • Tell the story from the grandparent's, child's, or grandchildren's, perspective.
  • Write about what you know. Sometimes everyday experiences become special when we look back on them.
  • Stuck for ideas? Conduct an interview. Ask relatives to help you recall memories and stories. Then arrange the ideas to help you create the story.

Sharon says that putting the book together isn't just an adult activity. She encourages parents - and even grandparents - to get help from children. Getting them involved will help them feel more connected to the book and the person it's about.

Publishing your book is a special option from My Family Tales. The most popular publishing package is 5 hardbound, 28-page, 8x8 inch books for $445. Additional books can then be ordered at any time for only $49 per book. Published storybook prices vary, depending on quantity and binding. Package prices start at 6 softbound storybooks for only $325. Customers have a choice of border color.

Once the book is in your hands, Sharon suggests that parents read it to their children. She says this will make them feel more connected to the book's subject and help them remember the stories for years to come.

Sharon says that while the company is only in its infancy right now, she already has plans for it to grow. She'd like expand into countries all around the world and do Storybook Kits in a variety of languages.

Sharon A. Murdoch is a 27-year veteran of education, with an Ed.D. in educational leadership and curriculum development. Her main focus is P-12 public schooling. She has taught at all levels of schooling, written 24 books for parents, teachers, and students (published by Doubleday and Collier Macmillan), and implemented and developed a national curriculum.

She also has been a professor of higher education at Brigham Young University, working with school principals, superintendents, and teachers in graduate programs throughout the world. She was educational chair for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics, where she met with key US and global educators about the latest needs in education. Dr. Murdoch is the CEO of www.k12ed.com, an online program for parents.

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