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Storytelling Tips for Family History Photo Books
Powerful storytelling is a top priority for many genealogists. We want our loved ones to “meet” our ancestors and learn their stories. But how do we write stories that our non-genealogist relatives will enjoy? 

Two words: Picture books! When a child starts to read, we give them entertaining picture books. They can look at the pictures, read a few words, and enjoy the story. And then they’ll want to read more. We can do the same when introducing family history to relatives: tell stories and give them plenty to look at. 

The “picture book” version of family history is a digital photo book. These three strategies for creating a photo book are the same kinds of strategies a successful children’s picture book writer follows:

1. Choose ONE story to tell. Talk about one ancestor, or one theme (like migration or jobs), or one pattern on your tree (such as common names). This may be the hardest part of the whole process for you!

2. Know your audience. Before you start designing your book, identify who you’re writing it for. That way you can highlight things they’ll care about and write in a voice they’ll understand and enjoy.

3. Show, don’t tell. Your well-chosen images will drive the storyline and hold the reader’s interest. After all, it’s a photo book! If the captions weren’t there, your readers should still get the gist of the story and feel its power. 

In my Make a Family History Book in 3 Days workshop this weekend, I’ll walk you through the entire process. You’ll get step-by-step instructions for telling a story in 20 pages; choosing and preparing high-quality images; laying out the pages; and ordering a book online.
Sunny Morton
Sunny Morton
Free family photo book forms.
Free Family Photo Book Project Worksheets
These two worksheets are designed to help you create and organize photos for your photo book projects. The Online Photo Service Comparison Worksheet gives you the tools to analyze different services side by side, so you can determine which one is best for your project. The Photo Book Project Board Worksheet will help you organize and plan your project from start to finish.
Vivid-Pix and Friends Have Created Free Classes to Safely & Enjoyably Celebrate the Holidays!
These free, online classes were created by Kenyatta D. Berry (Genealogy Roadshow, PBS), Reunions Magazine (leading Family / Military / Class reunion magazine), DearMYRTLE (leading genealogy / family history educator), and Vivid-Pix (leading AI image restoration software).
Photo book.
Your Ultimate Planning Guide for Making a Photo Book
Share your family history! Here’s the ultimate how-to plan for making a photo book: image qualities to consider, elements to include and a making a page plan. With this guide, you can create a visual story that will pass your ancestor’s stories on to future generations.
Open book.
How to Self-Publish Your Family History Book
You may have thought an actual print book in which your relatives can read your family’s story and see photos would be out of reach. But with modern printers, desktop publishing software, online book services and entire self-publishing companies, the dream many family historians share—to see their genealogy work in print—is achievable.
Dive into genealogy records with our ultimate guide!
Discover the best genealogy records using the tips and strategies in this guide, which shows you how to find and use census records, birth records, marriage records and more. Use code DOWNLOADS at checkout for 10% off!
Ultimate Guide to Genealogy Records eBook
Trending this Week
Find a Grave website on a desktop computer.
 Find a Grave: 7 Strategies for Successful Searching
The free website Find a Grave is home to over 190 million gravestone memorials around the world—and it keeps growing. Find a Grave is powered by, which acquired the site in 2013. Try these seven strategies for digging in to data on your relatives’ final resting places and extend your family tree.
Free Ancestor Immigration Forms for Genealogy
Free Ancestor Immigration Forms for Genealogy
These free forms are designed for transcribing the names of, and information about, early immigrants you find on customs lists (the name for early passenger lists) and ship manifests. Record your ancestor’s passenger information on the form corresponding to the year he or she immigrated to America.
University Corner
Make a Family History Book in Three Days
You can make a family history book in 3 days! In this workshop, you will learn how to make a 20-page photo book using a combination of photographs, documents, and text to tell their ancestors’ stories. You’ll discover the secrets to creating a good layout and how to keep the story flowing from page to page. Plus, you’ll get the finished results back in time to give as presents for the upcoming holidays.
Make a family history book in 3 days.
The Family Tree Podcast
Family Tree Podcast logo
New Episode! Researching Mayflower Connection: Episode 143
Chris Child, editor of the Mayflower Descendant journal, joins Lisa to discuss strategies genealogists can use to discover their connection to the Mayflower passengers. Plus, our DNA expert is back to talk about how to understand missing or unexpected matches in your DNA test results, and much more!
A Few Last Things
The holiday deals are starting to roll out! MyHeritage has introduced a new gift membership with an introductory 50% off discount. Ancestry is offering several discounts on their DNA test kits and 23andMe is offering 50% off select kits as well. Take note of the expiration dates on these deals, as some deals are only good before Thanksgiving!

If you’re looking for a family history gift that is NOT a test kit, our editor Courtney put together this gift guide with plenty of ideas.

Till next week, genealogists!
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