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The Gift of Family Writing Review by Kris Price

By Jill Novak
Remembrance Press

I wish I'd had this book before my children were born! How many of us have old family photo albums with only names and dates beside the picture? Do we know anything about the people in the pictures? In many cases we do not, and that is a shame because we lack knowledge of our ancestors and their history. Ms. Novak has written The Gift of Family Writing to encourage us to record our daily lives so that future generations will know more about our life stories.

When I first started reading The Gift of Family Writing, I thought to myself, "Boy, you really messed up! You haven't taken the time to record all of those times that the kids said something cute or funny." However, the author emphasizes that it is never too late to begin recording those moments. Just start now! Keeping a notebook handy is the only requirement for jotting down the funny moment at breakfast, noting the sweet interaction between children in the afternoon, or capturing the lively conversation around the dinner table. With pen and paper ready, you are all set to record those moments that would otherwise go unnoticed.

The one thing that Ms. Novak wants to impress upon the reader is the value of relationship. "The written word has the power to bless, bond, guide, heal and give life, because written communication is a gift from God. Only within the security of family relationships do we have the freedom to express what's on our hearts and anticipate a response." Ms. Novak urges parents to get their children journaling as early as possible. Taking dictation for younger children or reluctant writers encourages them to join in this task. Don't worry about the grammar because this can stifle a willing participant! I was caught by this statement: "Journaling with your family will slow down life's hectic pace. It will put joy back into your day." Wow! What an insightful statement. Just taking the time to enjoy family dinners together has added a lot to our lives. I can only imagine what a family journal would add.

One aspect of family journaling that I really appreciate is the fact that each member of the family views an event differently. By sharing our thoughts, we draw closer together and begin to understand each other better. In addition, each person will remember different details; thus, a more complete account will be preserved.

The book gives advice for helping your child develop fluency, tips for inspiring an older child, and ways to help the child include more details. Multiple examples of family writing are shared, including letters from parents to children, prayer journals, and tributes about family and friends.

I haven't seen anything like The Gift of Family Writing before. I'm already an avid scrapbooker and card maker, but now after reading Ms. Novak's book, I believe I have a new outlet for my creativity! Our lives are full of so much hustle and bustle. The Gift of Family Writing encourages us to take the time to savor those lovely moments, the funny comments, and the silliness that only a family can enjoy. What a gift we would be giving to our children and our future descendants if we took the time to practice family writing!

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publisher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2006