A New Leaf
“Connecting to your past grounds you in the present and allows you to envision your future,” says host Daisy Fuentes. In each episode of this reality show, A New Leaf, Fuentes leads a parent and child through a “journey of personal discovery.”
One dad, Steve, wants to help his son, Remy, “fill out as many leaves” on his family tree as possible for a school project. Remy plans to become the “family historian.” In another episode, a single mom wants to find out more about her family’s arrival in this country from Hungary so that her son, who just had his bar mitzvah, will know more about his roots.
“It’s the story of your life,” says Fuentes, who visits one family in each episode and reveals documents that Ancestry.com has unearthed. (Draw your own conclusions about the show’s sponsor.) For each family tree, Daisy explains jobs various ancestors had – tailor, potato farmer, etc. — before arriving in America.
It’s fun to watch Fuentes trace the roots to great-great-great grandparents and earlier, and it’s nice to see the surprise in kids’ faces when they hear anecdotes about relatives from hundreds of years ago. When young Remy learns that authors were in his past, he thinks about how maybe that’s something he could do in the future. And when he reveals the big “family tree” board project that he’s built based on all the information, he’s clearly proud and happy.
While it’s not always enjoyable to page through someone else’s family scrapbook, A New Leaf does a fairly good job of making it compelling, especially when the child involved is clearly interested in the discoveries.
Ann Oldenburg ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.