Finding Family Treasure -- a Middle Grades Novel about Family History & More -- Review & Giveaway


Disclosure: I am working with The Children's Book Review, K.I. Knight, and Jane R. Wood and was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I am receiving a small stipend for this review.

Have you ever looked into your family history? Perhaps you have gone onto Ancestry or Family Search and looked up your relatives. Did you discover anything? Or perhaps your child needed to share a bit about the country your family comes from. Do you come from just one country? As what I call an American mutt, I cringe at those assignments. How do I pick one of the countries my family is from? When Hazel got that assignment, we went with Steven's family history since he is Italian American. Today I am going to share a middle grades book with you that a diverse class begins researching their own history. It is a tale of genealogy, family, connections and so much more. The book is Finding Family Treasure by K.L. Knight and Jane R. Wood. Oh, and there is a giveaway at the end of the post!

From the Publisher:

Finding Family Treasure Written by K. I. Knight and Jane R. Wood
Ages 7 and Up | 142 Pages 
Publisher: Melting Pot Press LLC | ISBN-13: 9781737337102

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Who are we?” Ms. Johansson asks her class of fifth graders. Her perplexed students soon discover the lesson she wants them to learn. While studying the founding of their country, the class is challenged to understand the melting pot that makes up the American people-both past and present.

With the help of a genealogist, students learn to navigate websites that introduce them to written records that have documented their families’ histories. Because the class is comprised of students with roots to many nationalities and ethnic groups, including African American, Native American, Mexican, Cuban, Irish, Italian, Polish, Scandinavian, Lebanese, and Japanese immigrants, the diversity in their own class becomes apparent.

To assist in their research, the teacher gives the students an assignment of interviewing their parents and grandparents, to learn more about the members of their families. One by one, the young people hear family stories connecting them to America’s earliest immigrants and settlers. The students also learn about historical events their ancestors witnessed or experienced, including the early settlement of Virginia, the American Revolution, the Underground Railroad, the Trail of Tears, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, early immigration processing at Ellis Island, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Holocaust.

As the story unfolds, some personal conflicts occur among the students, long-standing family tensions surface, and intergenerational relationships evolve. Complex issues such as privacy, adoption, diversity, immigration, slavery, and antisemitism are addressed in an age-appropriate manner.

Excited by what they have discovered, the students plan a program to share their findings with their families. Working together in small groups, they create a slide presentation of vintage photographs, a fashion show demonstrating various ethnic attire, music and food from different cultures, and visual displays showcasing military medals, artifacts, musical instruments, and family heirlooms.

Their family history project further inspires the students to want to do something more to honor past generations. With the help of a cemetery preservationist, they plan a clean-up day at a local graveyard in need of attention. Parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters join the class on a Saturday to help restore the final resting place of those who came before them.

As a result of their research project, the students not only discover personal connections to the past but also, in some cases, to each other.





Kathryn Knight, who uses the pen name K I Knight, is an international award-winning Author, Genetic Genealogist, American Historian, Keynote Speaker, and Cemetery Preservationist. Over the last thirteen years, Knight has documented more than 20,000 hours researching the first recorded Africans to arrive in the English settlement of Virginia in 1619. Her passion is unrivaled and strongly evident in her published writings.

Her literary work includes Fate & Freedom, a five star – Gold medal historical trilogy detailing the lives of the 1619 Africans, as well as her nonfiction work, Unveiled – The Twenty and Odd, for which she was awarded the Phillis Wheatley Literary Award by the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage.

Knight is a board member for several National Non-profit organizations and the member of numerous Genealogy, Historical and Literary Societies including the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society, Florida State Genealogy Society, Virginia Genealogy Society, Virginia Historical Society, Florida Historical Society, American Historical Association, Genealogy Speakers Guild, Association of Professional Genealogists, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Director of 1619 Genealogy. The mother of three adult children, Knight, lives in North Florida with her husband, Tom.

For more information, visit

Jane R. Wood is the author of five award-winning juvenile fiction books where she weaves history and science into stories filled with mystery, adventure, and humor for young readers ages 8-14. Students like her books because they’re fun. Teachers like them for their educational value. Wood is a former teacher, newspaper reporter, and television producer. She has a BA from the University of Florida and an MEd from the University of North Florida. Wood lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and is the mother of two grown sons and five grandchildren.

To learn more about her and her books, go to her website at

From Me:

First, I want to say I usually struggle to read a chapter book digitally. I didn't with this one. It was interesting and engaging. I love how diverse the class is and how they interact with one another.  They have Mike who is a Black boy who is adopted. They have a Mexican American boy; a boy who discovers his Native American roots; a Black girl who has a great grandfather who was a Tuskegee Airmen and so many more. They also include a Muslim girl and Jewish boy. One of the white boys even is afraid to stir up trouble in his family since his father is estranged from his grandfather. They all end up excited and find different ways that they are the same or similar. They make connections with each other and then bring their families together. The kids even want to go further and find other things to do to show respect for their ancestors. I love how inclusive the book is with finding ways to connect each student including the boy who is adopted. 

This book has so many wonderful values. Respect for our differences as well as for our similarities. Respect for those who came before us. Finding connections with each other and supporting one another. Discovering the history that makes up our country--the Melting Pot.  Throughout the book there are references to different things in the history of America as well as the world. The stories in the book range across so many different parts and groups of people. One boy has a connection to the Revolutionary War. Another shares his family coming from Mexico. They learn about Ellis Island and share experiences as well as photos of their families and ancestors with one another and put on a presentation for their families. It is such a wonderful connection and so much better than just learning about a country your family is from. 

The story itself is engaging and draws the reader in. It is entertaining and fun. It follows the kids into their lives from the classroom to their homes. We see some prejudices that get broken down with the connections they end up finding in the end. The class and their families come together and celebrate one another and do community service in the end. It is just a wonderful, feel-good book. I hope you will check it out.

Family History Activity Round-Up

Now in the Acknowledgements the authors share some of the places that helped them with history for the book. They are historical sites and museums from across our country. I once made a family tree craft using photographs of my family. It started with my paternal grandparents on the bottom of the trunk and went up to my sisters, cousins and me. I gave it to my grandparents for a gift. It was the shape of a tree with various photographs collaged together to form it. I'm not sure I have a photo of it (sorry). 

As I mentioned previously Ancestry and Family Search are on-line places to get started. I asked other bloggers to share their ideas on the subject, and here is what they shared!

1) Family Thanksgiving Tree Craft from Crafts by Amanda
2) Family Tree Activity from Kelly's Classroom Online
3) Family Handprint Turkey from Crafts by Amanda
4) Comparing Two Biographies (in a series) from Kelly's Classroom Online

Here are some more places to find other activities, projects, and resources! Family Search offers several different activities for kids aged 3-11. Genealogy Bank has different activities and games to get kids interested in learning family history. The Family History Guide offers more activities and lessons including understanding family relationships and vocabulary. (Be sure to click on the different menu items at the top because there are different activities including group games.) Family Tree Magazine offers a selection of activities and more for kids looking at family history. The National Archives also offers activities including downloadable family trees and migration maps. Scholastic offers five websites and apps that are child friendly for genealogy research and some include activities. Ready to jump into researching your genealogy? Check out this comparison article along with reason why and how to do research over at Top The National Genealogical Society shares the top free resources for searching for family genealogy.   


Enter for a chance to win a copy of Finding Family Treasure, along with a 1-hour genealogy consultation! (I'm jealous of the grand prize winner because I would love the 1-hour genealogy consultation!) Good luck!! Enter below!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • An autographed copy of Finding Family Treasure
  • A 1-hour genealogy consultation with Kathryn Knight, a genetic genealogist, and co-author of this book. Knight will provide guidance to establish a genealogy line for the recipient’s family, tailoring it to their needs.
Four (4) winners receive:
  • An autographed copy of Finding Family Treasure