Thursday, January 31, 2013

Zap the Grandma Gap: A Review

Author Janet Hovorka gets it. She understands the value of family history and its impact on our lives. Genealogy isn’t just a hobby. It’s a means to uncover the knowledge that can influence who we are and how we comprehend our world.

Unfortunately, most people don’t discover the joys of family history until much later in life. When our relatives die, we lose their family memories, experiences, recipes and other elements of our heritage. To ensure family history is preserved, we need to pass our knowledge and wisdom on to our children so they can learn to appreciate genealogy.

However, kids have a tendency to run away from whatever mom, dad, grandma and grandpa think is cool. How do we get our broods interested in family history? Fortunately, Janet Hovorka’s book comes to the rescue.

Zap The Grandma Gap: Connect With Your Family by Connecting Them To Their Family History features almost 200 pages of ideas, strategies and assistance in preserving and sharing family history with loved ones.

The book is divided into seven sections that tackle different challenges in incorporating one’s family into family history. The first section discusses serendipity, healing and understanding emotions within the family. Section two provides visual ideas for sharing ancestral history. Other sections include sharing through technology, creating new content, making family history fun and educational, connecting with relatives and preservation tips to ensure heirlooms are passed down in top condition.

Hovorka knows all about what she preaches. She’s a mother of three who also runs Family ChartMasters with her husband. In Zap the Grandma Gap, she shares candidly of her own trials and tribulations and how they shaped her life. Her ideas have been tested on her own family so you know they’re practical and successful. She references her own “crabby teenager” when introducing social media strategies to break down communication barriers.

There are literally dozens and dozens of ideas and tips for introducing family history, sparking interest and fostering ancestral appreciation. My favorite example was the set of short children’s books Hovorka’s mother created to share family history. Each 10-15 page book focused on a different ancestor and an attribute he or she exhibited in life. What a treasure!

Hovorka advises genealogy enthusiasts to give kids a chance to be beginners. Let them discover the joy of the hunt, even if their research practices aren’t top notch out of the gate. She revels in their excitement and tells us to do the same. Her motherly patience is all over this book.

Zap the Grandma Gap is a handy toolbox brimming with inspiration and ideas for getting the “family” into family history. You’ll be grateful for the guidance as well as the casual and supportive way in which it is delivered. Like a good mom, Hovorka even adds something special at the end: a promise of more great ideas at the book’s accompanying website:

Zap the Grandma Gap - $19.95

[Disclosure: I received a pre-publication copy of this book for review. -A]

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