Wednesday, April 3, 2013

13 Ways To Tell Your Ancestor Stories ~ A Book Review and Giveaway

"Once upon a time…"

Such a magical phrase!  It has the power to immediately draw you in.  You want to know more.  Just what did happen "Once upon a time?"  This is the power of storytelling.  And really, when you think about it, we are surrounded by stories in our everyday lives.  Movies, books, television shows, songs we listen to—these are really mediums for storytelling.

Did you know that you can make your family history as magical and powerful as the phrase "Once upon a time?"  How?  Through the power of stories.  The importance of including ancestor stories in your family history cannot be overemphasized.  Sharing the stories of your ancestors with your family members is vitally important in helping them become interested in and excited about their own family history.

But you may ask, "Where do I begin and what storytelling methods should I use?"

In the second edition of Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith's book 13 Ways To Tell Your Ancestor Stories, Dr. Bill shares 13 successful, creative, and fun ways to share the stories of your ancestors.

13 Ways To Tell Ancestor Stories Book Cover

From the Back Cover:

Dr. Bill enjoys telling and sharing ancestor stories and related family history social context. He has published four family histories, to date, with more in progress.

For the latest on Dr. Bill, his writings and stories, see his complementary blog at:

Do you have family history and ancestor stories collected and researched?

Do you want to share them and tell your stories, but don't know how or what venue to use?

This book has your answer.

Preservation and interpretation of your ancestor stories will occur most effectively if you use multiple approaches to telling your ancestor stories to your family and interested others. Showing you how to do this is the purpose of this book.

The content of our telling of ancestor stories includes your life as well as the lives of your two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, etc., and their siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. Ancestor stories include the social context in which these folks lived, their clothes, their farms or ranches, their religion (or not), their occupations, their loves and antagonisms, their education (or not), their friends and neighbors, and the mundane details of their daily lives.

13 sections suggest a variety of ways to tell your ancestor stories; each section has a Planning Worksheet to assist you in doing it most effectively.

"Telling a story about an ancestor can be a gift to oneself and to one's family. It is powerful to have your stories heard.  Judy Shintani"


13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories contains 13 easy-to-read and informative sections under the heading "Potential Story Sharing Activities."
  1. Blog
  2. Book
  3. Newsletter
  4. Website
  5. Podcasts
  6. Videos
  7. Wikis
  8. Scrapbooking
  9. Brochures
  10. Posters
  11. Art and Artifacts
  12. Oral Performance
  13. Other

At the end of each section, Dr. Bill has included a "Pros and Cons" list as well as a handy "Planning Worksheet" for that particular Story Sharing Activity.

One of the story sharing activities mentioned in this book is scrapbooking.  I know many people already love scrapbooking.  It's a wonderful way to share ancestor stories.  But what if that's not something you're interested in.  Not to worry!  That's the beauty of this book.  Dr. Bill provides a variety of different ideas for sharing the stories of your ancestors.

Oral performance is another very effective way to share ancestor stories.  I have first-hand experience about it's effectiveness.  Just the other day at church, two of my friends added simple costume accessories (a shawl and gloves for her and a flat cap from England for him) to what they were already wearing, and played the parts of my 2nd great-grandaunt, Sarah Amanda Waterman Engle and her husband Richard Engle.  My two friends were helping me with a presentation to children aged 7-11.  My friends introduced themselves as Richard and Sarah Engle and told the kids a little about their lives.  Two of Sarah and Richard's children died when they were babies.  Near the end of my presentation, one of the little girls asked how one of the babies had died.  To me this shows that this little girl had been touched by this story of my ancestors.

I also love the idea of artifacts being used as a way to tell ancestor stories, and as a catalyst for conversations about our ancestors.  We have several photos of our ancestors displayed in our home.  When I saw our youngest son stop in front of some of these photos and show them to his friends, that was definitely a heartwarming moment for me.

13 Ways To Tell Your Ancestor Stories is a helpful resource for anyone who wants ideas about how to share their ancestor stories.  It's available for purchase on and


Dr. Bill has graciously allowed those of us on his blog book tour to give away a PDF version of 13 Ways To Tell Your Ancestor Stories to one of our lucky readers.  If you'd like a chance to win a PDF version of Dr. Bill's book, please leave a comment, along with your email address, in the comments below.

At midnight on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, the giveaway will close and I will randomly select a winner on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.  The lucky winner will be contacted by email, so don't forget to include your email address in the comments below for a chance to win Dr. Bill's book.

Note:  If you prefer that your email address remain private, just leave a comment below to enter the contest, and then email me (see my Contact Me tab above) and include your name and email address.

Thanks for reading and good luck with the giveaway contest!


© 2013 Copyright by Jana Last

Disclaimer:  As part of this blog book tour, I was given a PDF copy of Dr. Bill's book 13 Ways To Tell Your Ancestor Stories.


  1. You pick me! Pick me! Sounds like it right up my alley.

  2. I just realized I wasn't following your blog. I follow you on google+ so I read regularly. Now I am a GFC follower!

  3. This book sounds great! I would love to have it!

  4. Looks like Dr. Bill has all his bases covered--most of which I haven't yet tried (wikis, podcasts, brochures, posters, oral performance.) Would be very interesting to see his suggestions for passing on family history in these ways. Sounds like a very engaging book!

  5. Jana,

    Thank you for being a wonderful host on my 13 Ways Book Blog Tour. Best wishes to you and your readers!

    Dr. Bill ;-)

  6. Well I've done number one and am due to do number 12 soon and I'm working on the power point presentation at the moment, it's the book might cause a little problem.

  7. This sounds like a very useful book. Add me to the drawing, please!

  8. I'm looking for ways to share my ancestors stories. I'm especially considering starting a blog, and some of the other ways intrigue me. Looking forward to reading this book. mdsmith25 at ktis dot net

  9. This looks great, Jana. Thirteen good ways. I'm glad you publicizing Dr. Bill's good book with a giveaway.

  10. Please put my name in the hat! I'd love to win. And Jana, that is so neat about your son showing his buddies the photos!

  11. I'd love to win this! audiodropzone (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. I'd put my name in, but I already won a copy. Can you believe it?!?! I'm glad to read your views on Dr. Bill's book.

  13. Thanks for the comment on my family history blog. I have been reading though yours and will now follow it too. I also had a comment from Dr. Bill and have spent some time there too. I would love a copy of the book, I already checked it out on Amazon. wordstock16(at)yahoo(dot)com.

  14. I think this book looks very interesting, but I might be about 9 minutes late your time. It is 11:09 our time, (central) but it might be too late your time.eatatjacquies(at)gmaildotcom

  15. Thank you everyone for entering the book giveaway contest and for your kind comments!

    A winner was chosen today and I've posted the results in a new blog post.

    Here's the link ~

    Thanks again!




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