Life Book

boy n butterfly on flowerStarring in your own Lifebook Story!

A Life Book brings together a child’s past, present, and future. It is a book to document a child’s history, celebrate accomplishments, and showcase talents. It is a record of a child’s life in his or her own words using photos, artwork, and things picked up along the way.  A Life Book is an excellent tool to help children process their life experiences so they can function better, feel better about themselves, and be better prepared for their future. It’s is a combination of a scrapbook, diary and a story.kids rolling around on floor

The Life Book is an important part of a child’s connection to his or her birth family. The best time to begin a Life Book is when a child comes into the foster care system, when birth family and child’s developmental and family history information are more available.

Unfortunately, this process often does not happen. It then becomes the task of the case managers and the foster parents, or even the adoptive parents (if no one else has done it), to begin to retrieve and collect important identity information for this child. A Life Book should be developed whenever a child comes into foster care.

Blended family in redYou can collect information for your child’s Life Book from the following sources: Case records; case records from other agencies that have had contact with the child; birth parents; foster parents; grandparents or other relatives; previous case managers; hospital where the child was born; well-baby clinics; other medical personnel; previous neighbors; teachers and schools; court records; newspapers (birth announcements, marriage announcements); school pictures (from school records); policemen who have had previous contact with the birth family; and church and Sunday school records.

There is no right or wrong way to prepare a Life Book. You can be as creative as you and your child want. In helping you to put one together, below is a guideline of some of the information you want to include (if available) in your child’s Life Book:
Starring in your own Lifebook Story!

boy with small minnow n funny lookEveryone has a personal story that is uniquely their own. Over time, memories fade and the stories may become hazy. A life book is all about you, and they help you express who you are by documenting your history. They connect you with your past.

Life books are tools that can be useful to record memories and life events that occur at any age. Life books can help children retain connections to people who have been important in their lives and may help the children integrate past experiences with their present circumstances in a healthy, constructive manner.

Regardless of how much or how little information you have; the goal remains the same: document as much as you can about your life and your history in your own personal life book. Your story is important! It’s all important!

father daughter snowGetting Started
Gather as much information as you can. You can start small and watch your book grow over time. You will not need stacks of photo albums or piles of personal documents in order to start creating your life book. You can start with anything that is about you!
Talk with your social worker, your foster or adoptive parents, your birth family, extended family, friends, neighbors, mentors, teachers, tutors, therapists and anyone else who played a role in your life. Sometimes even people who only knew you casually might have some unexpected insight for you.

Life Book Pageskids in mud hole at camp
The next step is to decide what items that you would like to include in your life book. This is your life book and you get to decide what you would like to include. Be creative, be expressive, and be committed to add to your life book regularly. It’s your life story!

Pictures
A picture really is worth a thousand words. Gather as many pictures as you can. You may want to include photos that your friends or family have taken of you. Let them know what you are doing and ask them to share.

If you aren’t able to find a lot of pictures then you can ask your friends and family to start taking pictures of you and you in turn, can take pictures to include in your book.
Look for awards, certificates, report cards, diplomas, certificates, artwork, poems, writing assignments, school projects, honors, or any other important items from your past and present that you would like to include in your life book.

Life books are a way to express who you are and how you’re feeling. When you enter information into your life book, remember that this is your personal book and you can include whatever feelings or experiences that you would like to remember or express. No boy caught a fishmatter what feelings you are experiencing, this is your chance to express yourself! Explore these thoughts when creating your life book:

• What talents you possess?
• What do you do well?
• What are your interests?
• What would your friends say about you?
• What are you most proud of about yourself?

Are you artistic? If so, you could include poems, stories, artwork, website links, doodles, graphic designs, songs, letters, or any other creative expressive ideas that describe who you are and what is important to you.
Capture your past. Your history is important because your history is who you were and impacted who you have become. Some- times it’s helpful to make a timeline of when things happened in your life. You can consider adding some of these items into your life book, although there will also be many things you don’t know from the list below:

• Where you lived throughout the years?
• Who were you living with?
• What schools did you attend?
• What were some of your first words?
• When did you first walk?
• What was your favorite toy?
• Who were your neighbors?
• Who were your friends?
• What were your favorite activities?
• What were your favorite classes?
• Who were your favorite teachers?
• What was your favorite family vacation?
• What is your earliest memory?
• What were the names of your pets?
• What are some of your silliest childhood memories?
• What is your favorite kid’s song?
• What was your favorite kid’s game?
• What are some of your favorite holiday memories?
• What were some of your family traditions?
• What were some of your special days and celebrations?
• Who are some people that you are thankful for?

You can liven up your life book by adding stickers, colored paper, decorative borders, stamps; as well as other scrapbooking supplies.

Cards and letters. Do you have a collection of letters or cards from family members and friends? Have you ever written letters to important people in your life that you have never sent? These are examples of sentimental items that you could add to your life book.
Special keepsakes. Personal mementos are items that you have saved that mean the world to you. Including things like ticket stubs (from a favorite movie, play, sporting event, musical, or concert), bits and pieces of a flower from a corsage; a program from a wedding;, a special note from your mentor, a birthday card, or any other special keepsake that you would like to preserve in your life book. If it’s too big to put in your life book— like a special teddy bear, Christmas ornament, necklace, quilt, etc.—then take a picture of it and put that in instead.

girl on swing

Saving Your Life Book
However you decide to create your life book, be sure to make at least one copy of your life book. This is your history and you will work hard to create it and you have to take the extra steps to preserve your history.
Consider saving a copy on a computer and making extra paper copies and keep your copy in a safe and secure place. Remember that whatever you include in your life book will instantly become a masterpiece!

Time is on Your Side
Creating your life book will take time, energy, creativity and effort. A life book is more like a journey than a destination. As a result, take the time to gather information from your past to create a life book that you will cherish for years to come.

Remember that your life book is just that, yours. You can choose if and when you want to share your life book with others. Your life book will likely contain private information that you may not feel comfortable sharing with other people. That is perfectly fine. You have control over whether or not you will share your life book with others.