Did you have a pen pal as a kid?
I did (several!) and I loved the process of selecting the perfect stationery, penning my thoughts and sending those letters off to seemingly far-flung places.
Today I’m excited to welcome lovely Katie to the blog!
She’ll be sharing with you ways to set up a letter exchange for your kids. Katie also shares some fabulous books to bring the world into the hands of your littles.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that “the sight of the huge world put mad ideas into me, as if I could wander away, wander forever, see strange and beautiful things, one after the other.”
Shannon and I are excited to share a super fun way to fill your kiddo with those mad ideas about strange and beautiful things, without ever leaving your home.
Today, we are talking about…Pen Pals!
Coupled with great books, creative letters, and interesting questions, a letter buddy is an irreplaceable asset to get your budding traveler interested in this huge world! Pen pals have the brilliant bonus of encouraging empathy and exterior perspective taking. They introduce other cultures, ideas, and customs through friendship. So with a little intention and safe practices, Pen Pals are win-win! In this post, you will find a list of great companion books that encourage global curiosity, a discussion on safe pen pal practices, and suggestions for friendly questions.
Every one has heard of pen friends, I am sure. But we want to encourage a different perspective, one that views friendly letter exchange as a wonderful way to teach your kids about a new part of the world. Friendships are great, but friendships that encourage learning are the best! When my daughter recruited her first pen pal, I ran to the library and ordered all the atlases and geographical compendiums I could think of. I pulled out my grandfather’s globe and showed her how far away her pen friend lived. We opened books and looked at the many things we simply don’t have around here! I showed her the Cliffs of Dover, Buckingham Palace, the way policemen dress! It was a blast.
Here is a great library list to get your little writer’s curiosities afire:
Atlas of Adventure
The 50 States
Adventures Around the Globe
Around the World with Mouk
Walk This World
At The Same Moment, Around the World
(Click on the book titles to be taken to Amazon. These are affiliate links.)
Follow me Katie, @afriendlyaffair for a closer look at those rad books. I will be taking snapshots and talking about their virtues all week with #afriendlybookseries.
There are a few ways to find a Pen Friend like through the military, schools, or international friends, but I found my daughter’s through Instagram. Isn’t that awesome?! On the Insta-circuit, I met a few ladies that I came to really respect, and most importantly, I believed that they weren’t sweaty men in jogging suits or cat hoarders. But even still, once you have found a friend that you’re comfortable with, it is always best to start with a parent to parent video exchange. A video ensures that you aren’t being catfished (google that at your own risk), and if necessary, it allows you and your pen-pal’s parent or caregiver to lay ground rules. Here is a great idea: during your initial exchange, be it a picture or a video, ask for a certain random question answered like, “How many teeth do you have?” If it is a picture of the kiddo, ask that they be holding a certain book or daily paper. This ensures that the person with whom you’re speaking has an actual consenting child, in real time. I know its strange, and you can apologize for your odd requests, but be insistent – safety first!
Once you have your books your child is interested, and you have communicated with the parent, start having fun! There is no need to send plain envelopes; have your child paint, decorate, write, and be creative. Find neat stamps or cool stationary. Perhaps send local flora. Use markers, pens, washi tape – you name it. In the case of my daughter, she decorates the stationary, asks the questions, and I pen them (she is only 3). Here are some fun questions to ask or things to disclose, but remember, not everything at once. And also, friendship is fun, but don’t forget to learn new things about the world!
Ask about places they have been, chores, favourite subjects in school, sports, hobbies.
What do you collect?
What is your favourite food? What does a typical meal in your country look like?
What is a popular candy; what is your favourite sweet?
What is the weather like?
Are there nearby site seeing spots I could research on the internet?
What are you currently seeing, smelling, hearing?
Do you have pets?
What kind of home do you live in?
What are your goals?
What is the last movie you saw in the theatre?
What is your favourite book?
Enjoy pen palling, encourage curiosity, and as always, I hope you find creative ways to incorporate the wonderful world of books and crafts. Good Luck!
We would love to see and share your favourite travel books or creative pen-pal ideas, just use #afriendlybookseries over on Instagram.
It has been a blast guesting over here on Oh Creative Day – if you like what you see, follow me on Instagram @afriendlyaffair or sign up for my newsletter here to have my articles and book series as they are published, right to your inbox. I am a clinical psychologist, book lover, and I love my little insta-community. I hope you drop by to say hello!