Years ago, a relative sent me a piece of family history that would immediately, and over time, change my entire perspective of my family history. I’ve said that studying history in general is like climbing a mountain – the landscape you see from your view doesn’t change - it’s in the past - what happened, happened. But as you climb the mountain, as you ascend, as the trail twists and turns, your perspective changes.
Memory to Story
That’s what the memoir of Almyra King Holsclaw did for me. My grandma Mary had told me a little about her memories of her great-grandmother Almyra – that she remembered her living in a ‘little house on the prairie type house’ that had no electricity. I was learning from my grandma who was sharing seventy year old memories from her young perspective, and though it was clear, it didn’t tell the whole story. This is something we must understand about history – that we will never quite ever know the whole story – from every angle, nook, and cranny, and so we must always continue seeking to understand.
And then my cousin sends me Almyra’s memoir and I immediately went from a distant memory to learning about Almyra in her own words. The perspective shifted – in a matter of minutes, I knew more about her family, her childhood, her marriage and parenthood, her old age, and her surroundings. Her life took on a new angle. And as I continued to study her life, voices from those around her, newspaper articles about her, her obituary, she took on new form in my mind, and began to come to life.
And as she came to life, as her words and those of others became more vivid, I knew that her story needed to be shared. I knew that her rich descriptions of pioneer life and early Indiana could spark the imaginations of children, that they could paint a picture in our minds of what once was in the life of my ancestor - our ancestors. I knew that Almyra’s memoir and story was just begging to be turned into a children’s picture book.
A Life Story
And so finally, years after this spark of realization in my mind, When Mother Read Aloud: The Life Story of Almyra King Holsclaw, is finally a reality. Years of research, collaboration with relatives, historians, genealogists, and illustrators, months of art-making and storytelling, Almyra has finally been brought back to life within a children’s picture book. This is my reserved way of telling you: Aaaah! My dream has finally come true! It’s here! It’s here, it’s here!
You can find the book on Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and also very soon in local libraries and bookstores. I knew all along, as my grandma did, as my great-great-great grandmother knew of herself, that this story needed to be told. This story needed to be shared. And now it’s finally here!
And in my Author’s Note at the end of the book, I reiterate my vision for this book and all other ‘storybook ancestors’ that follow – It is my sincere hope that all children who read this book will be encouraged to learn the stories of their own ancestors, and to share them with the world, just like I shared Almyra’s story.