A book of your grandparent’s memories can provide you with a family heirloom that both current and future generations will enjoy and be grateful for. Here are some tips to get you started.
Gather Your Information
One of the more popular ways to put together a grandparent’s memory book is to ask specific questions and have your grandparent answer them. You can to this in several ways, such as simply putting 2-3 questions on each page and wither having the grandparent write or type the answers in themselves, or to conduct a taped interview and transcribe the answers yourself. Unless your grandparent is a writer by nature, the latter method is more likely to get you more material to work with, and the spoken answers can lead in interesting directions that you may not have anticipated. Long story short (as it were), in general, people speak more freely than they write so it is probably worth to do an interview rather than a questionnaire.
When you do your interview, you will of course want to have a list of questions prepared, but you should also be ready to go wherever the answers lead you. If you hear something interesting in one of the answers, follow it up.
You can start your line of questioning in chronological order (starting at your grandparent’s earliest memory and progressing from there) or you can start with a major event and work outward from there. Whatever you do, keep in mind that period-specific details will provide depth and color to your grandparent’s story.
Everyone’s life contains twists and turns that were not expected. While you should make sure to include the basic information that future generations will enjoy knowing, such as where he or she was born, grew up, went to school, got married, etc.,it is a person’s perspective on life that makes him or her unique, and will make your grandparent more of a “real person” to the readers of your memory book.
You will, of course, want to include some great photographs in your memory book. You can simply pore through any photo albums your grandparent has, and find the best ones to include in your book. You can also collect some from friends and family members that are especially fun or high quality. Scan the photos into your computer and intersperse them throughout your document along with some captions.
Another thought is to use photographs during your interview. You can show your grandparent a photo and have him or her tell what they remember about that moment, then include both the photo and the comments in your book.
Printing and Binding
You should use the best printing method that you can afford, such as digital laser printing. When it comes to putting the book together, you will have to think about how many copies you want and how you want to distribute them among family members, or whether you simply want one copy that you can pass around.
If you choose to make several copies, it may be worth your while to investigate having your own thermal binding machine. This is the kind of machine that makes hardcover and softcover books and they are extremely affordable and incredibly easy to use. Take a look around online or ask your local print shop about your options.