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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fascinating series celebrates family ties, the indominatable human spirit, and the inherent similarities within the human race. In other words, it’s a great choice for families of tweens and teens and might just inspire you and yours to embark on your own genealogical journey into your family’s past. The show’s content is mostly worry-free for all ages, but younger kids lack the historical foundation to understand discussions about troubled periods like the Holocaust and slavery. If they take an interest, though, the series is an excellent starting ground for exploration of topics like history, sociology, and religion.
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What's the story?
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? shadows seven American celebrities as they explore their genealogical roots and search for answers to questions that have long gone unanswered in their families. Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith, and Spike Lee are among the participants who embark on life-changing journeys into the past, working with historical and genealogical experts to uncover clues to the lives of their ancestors. The stars travel the world to visit the places where their relatives lived, hoping to gain a better understanding of who they were, and ultimately where they themselves come from.
Is it any good?
These fascinating stories take the stars -- and viewers -- on an emotional journey through momentous times in history, putting a very human face on the ambiguous players in events like the Civil War, the Holocaust, and slavery. At the same time, the emergence of the stars’ unlikely ties to important historical times inspire the concept of a deep interconnectedness within human race. After watching the show, viewers may be drawn to learn more about their own family’s heritage, which makes for an excellent project the entire family can share.
If a flaw is to be found, it would be in the show’s oversimplification of the sleuthing process itself. The celebrities have the benefit of working with some of the industry’s best experts, who (despite what it appears) have had time to unearth documents and other evidence before they even meet with the stars. While it’s true that the Internet has opened access to historical documents to regular people like never before, average citizens will find it takes quite a bit longer than it appears on the show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how technology affects our access to information. What forms of communication do we have at our disposal that keep us in touch with current events? What are the benefits of being so “connected”? Are there any drawbacks to it? How does this access to information act as an equalizer for people from all walks of life?
Tweens: Are you interested in genealogy? What questions about your ancestors would you like to have answered? Do you think knowing more about your past would change how you feel about yourself? Why or why not?
Parents and tweens can talk about history. How have historical events shaped the world we live in today? What events would you say have had the most impact on your life? How do you think generations to come will view current times? What are the biggest challenges we face today?
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