2019 Reading Challenge: Read a Book Related to Your Ancestry

In 2019, OPL invites patrons to take part in the reading challenge! Each month, OPL will highlight a theme and offer suggestions for titles to read or listen to. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on TwitterInstagram or Facebook to let us know which read you picked up this month!

Of all the challenges this year, this one has been the one I’ve gotten the most questions about to help clarify what someone should read. If you’ve already completed this challenge - great! For those of you that need a little more help with finding something that will work for this, hopefully these suggestions can help. And if you are unsure of your ancestry, maybe now is the time to start exploring. OPL has great resources and events as well as new books on genealogy to help get you started.

When this challenge was designed it wasn’t necessarily intended that if your ancestry is, for example, German, you would need to read a book specifically about Germany. If that’s the way you’d like to take on this challenge that is perfectly fine. We definitely have a great supply of books set in Germany or travel guides or history books on Germany. But, you do not need to limit yourself to just the country or countries that your ancestors came from. 

Consider what kind of people your ancestors were. Was there a certain religion that carried through the generations? Or perhaps a specific holiday or cultural event that carries specific meaning throughout your family’s history? Is there a type of food or cuisine that has been passed down through your family that you might be able to explore more in an OPL cookbook? Did your ancestors come through Ellis Island and you’d like to learn more about that? Did your ancestors quilt, sew, bake pies, whittle wood, write books, tell scary stories around a campfire? We have books for all of those things. 

For me, I come from German farmers on both of my parents’ sides of my family. Reading this year’s Omaha Reads selection “This Blessed Earth” which explores both the history and the modern-day life on Nebraska farms made me think a lot about my ancestors and the kinds of things they lived through. I felt connected to them in reading it and that is really the main point of this challenge. There were a lot of parts that really spoke to me in this book that made me think about my ancestors, in particular the passages talking about the challenges of a farm being passed from one generation to the next.

So spend a little time thinking about whatever it is you might know about your ancestors, explore our catalog for some of the places, themes, hobbies, habits or ideas that make you think of them and enjoy being connected back to them if even for a brief amount of time.

And when you’ve completed the challenge of exploring your own family history, check out some of these captivating family history memoirs

Once you complete the 2019 Reading Challenge, remember to enter your reading log online or submit your completed tracking sheet at your nearest OPL branch. All completed submissions will be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed merchandise! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2019, to be entered into the prize drawing.