I became interested in scrapbooking my childhood memories when I started scanning and backing up my photos. I wanted a book about my childhood that I could share with my children. But I quickly became overwhelmed with the potential scope of the project.
Limiting the Scope of the Scrapbook
The scope of a project like this with potentially many photos and stories was initially overwhelming. I reminded myself that I didn’t want to include every photo and every story. I wanted to share the photos and stories that best represented my childhood. I decided it was more important to tell some of the stories and share some of the photos than wait until I remembered every story. Done is better than perfect.
An imperfect printed book of memories is better than waiting for perfection.
- Gathering. Photos, memorabilia, stories.
- Scanning. To avoid damaging original photos or files, I recommend scanning them first. This will allow you to scan things like your baby book without taking it apart. Initally, I printed the photos and put them into page protectors to make it easier to reorganize the photos. (I used a Simple Stories 6×8 binder with pocket pages to organize my photos and stories.) If you don’t already have a scanner, you may find this The Digi Show podcast episode helpful. There are some scanner recommendations as well as scanner software.
- Organizing. Choose the categories or topics (see my suggested list below).
- Choose the stories that are most important to you.
- Choose the photos that best represent the stories.
- Choose the time frame you want to include.
- Formatting. Choose the kind of book you want to make. For example, will it be a printed photo book or a handmade book or do you want to use page protectors? I chose to make a printed photo book with Blurb, but initally used a 6×8 album with plastic page protectors to organize my photos and stories.
- Printing. I printed my photo book with Blurb.
Childhood Memorabilia to Collect
In the beginning phase of gathering, I do not recommend curating the photos or memorabilia you collect. I recommend collecting all the photos and memorabilia you can find, scanning it and then deciding which is most important to you.
Here are some examples of childhood memorabilia to look for:
- My signatures
- Birth certificate
- Personality tests
- Library cards
- School report cards/transcripts
- Newspaper clippings
- Awards, such as sports or music
- If you have a story you want to tell but don’t have a photo, see if you can find one online, or tell it without a photo.
Childhood Memory Writing Prompts
I initially found the idea of making a book about my childhood overwhelming; I didn’t know how I would tell all my stories. Then I gave myself permission to choose the stories I wanted to tell and be okay that it wasn’t complete.
Some of the writing starts I used to share my story without being concerned about remembering every detail:
- Some of my favourite books/movies/songs/toys were…
- One lesson I learned was…
- Some of my memorable birthday gifts were…
- Some of my favourite camping memories were…
- One thing I appreciate about each person in my family is…
- One year we…
- Sometimes I liked to…
Here are some more specific writing prompts:
- How did the events affect you, for example how old were you when your siblings were born? Or how old were you when you moved or close family members got married/divorced/died?
- What did you like about the home(s) and city where you lived?
- Why did you move or change things like jobs, churches, schools, technology, vehicles, traditions?
- Who was influential in your life? (good or bad and why)
- What did you like/dislike about each of the topics?
- What advice would you give to your child or a friend going through a similar experience?
- Your first theater movie and how old you were?
- Is there a story behind your name? Why did your parents choose your name? Did they have alternative names?
- How far can you trace your family tree? What are the names of your parents, grandparents, etc. as far back as you can go?
- How do people, places, events, etc. from your childhood compare with your life now? What is the story of “then and now”?
Childhood Story Lists
Sometimes the stories don’t need to be described in detail, they can simply be a list, for example:
- Books you remember reading as a child
- Concerts you attended
- Pets you had
- Music you liked, or your first CDs/cassette tapes/records
- Movies you liked (look online for covers to print)
- Schools you attended, and what grades
- TV shows you liked
Childhood Memory Topics
Since I am fortunate to have many photos and memorabilia from my childhood, I found organizing the photos into topics helpful. After I scanned the photos, I put them into some of the following folders. Later, I used the topics in my photo book, for example, a two-page spread includes my stories and photos of Christmas as a child and another two-page spread includes stories and photos of my childhood birthdays.
Here are some childhood memory topics you could use in organizing your memories:
- Body (health, hair, clothing, tattoos, piercings)
- Creating (knitting, cross-stitch, painting, sewing, etc.)
- Church and spiritual life
- Extended family (grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc.)
- Listening to music
- Making music
- My body (hair, teeth, piercings, illnesses, immunizations, glasses, etc.)
- Nieces and Nephews
- Parents’ work
- Summer camp
- Toys or collections
- Traditions or holidays
- Vehicles (What did you learn to drive on? When did you get your driver’s license? Have you been in any car accidents?)
- Weddings and divorces
More about Scrapbooking Your Childhood Memories
- Personal history question challenge (list of 100 personal history questions) from Scrapbook.com forum
- You Have Enough Photos to Scrapbook Your Childhood by the Simple Scrapper
- Scrapbooking Your Childhood with Limited or No Photos by Debbie Hodge
- The History Project online class by Kerri Bradford
- Yesterday & Today self-paced online class by Ali Edwards
- Storytelling Strategies ebook by Stacy Julian
- The Digi Show podcast episode 117: The Light at the End of the Tunnel (about scanning photos)
If you’ve made a scrapbook of your childhood and shared it online, post a link in the comments, I’d love to see!