Pen Pals

Do you ever wish, in this age of click-and-text, that your child could be a little more in touch with pen and paper?

Call me old fashioned, again …

I love letter writing,

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Photo courtesy of Collar City Brownstone; http://www.perfectlyimperfectblog.com/2011/01/the-letters-of-a-visual-life.html

and I want my grandgirls to know the delight of holding an unopened envelope in their little hands (not to mention develop lush letter-writing skills that transcend LOL and BFF).

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Vintage photo of girl licking envelope; unknown date; http://nursemommylaughs.com/2012/11/19/grandparents-bond-memories-to-treasure/

Of course, computers and social media sites have made it easier than ever to connect with people far and wide, but these instant avenues to acquiring “friends” don’t come without a modicum of risk, especially where our kids are concerned.

(That’s grandmotherly apprehension for you.)

Anyhow, this train of thought led me to lament the fading of a lovely tradition: pen pals.

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Enfant écrivant by Henriette Brown, 1860-1880, V&A Museum Londres; http://doudou.gheerbrant.com/?m=201002

“Having a faraway pen pal is not only a fun way to boost reading and writing skills, but also a window into other cultures, or at least other parts of the country,” writes Teri Cettina of Parenting.com.

I couldn’t agree more!

But … where can a blooming Jane find a pen pal these days?

Right here: Amazing Kids.

The Amazing Kids! PenPals Program is a non-profit, literacy-based, traditional letter-writing program that is available to all children ages 5 to 17 worldwide.

Perfect!

(One could get carried away with the exclamation points, couldn’t she?)

Amazing Kids! Founder and President Alyse Rome explains that the program’s mission is to help inspire kids to discover their own unique gifts and to use them in positive and productive ways to make a difference in their lives and in the communities in which they live. “It offers one of the few remaining choices for finding an established, safe, and trusted traditional letter-writing pen pal program for children.”

Now, that’s what I’m talking about (!!!!!!!!!)

“The program helps foster new friendships with a global awareness and understanding of other cultures and places in the world,” Rome says. “Besides, it is so much fun for the kids to get letters, postcards and photographs of their pen pals in the mailbox!”

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Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution; http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/2550243063/in/photostream/

For ten dollars, a child can register (with the help of an adult), and Amazing Kids! will match her (or him) with a child of the same gender and age who may share similar interests and hobbies, based on the information provided on the registration form.

After that, it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper …

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Image courtesy of Free Clip Art Now. http://www.freeclipartnow.com/education/students/

and figuring out how to reach the mailbox …

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Vintage image of unknown date; Courtesy of Enright Enterprises; http://www.enrightenterprises.com/id69.html

 

Leave a comment 9 Comments

  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Oh, I love this idea! I had pen pals as a child, and I still do to this day–different ones now. I remember how excited I got to receive some mail.I also had the opportunity to write and share my life with a friend. I write to my grandgirls who live 11 hours away. They love getting mail! As one of my friends said in a letter not too long ago, “It’s good to write and share our lives. It helps keep our friendship alive.” She is so-oi-o right.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a very wonderful idea to teach your grandchildren! We did a badge in Girl Scouts about international something or another and we each got a pen pal. Mine was from England and we wrote all through grade school and high school. She lived near London and was my eyes and ears about all things Beatles! She went to a concert, sent me photos etc. We were bonded!! It was a wonderful experience to receive mail with different stamps and lots of news and tidbits about life from a young girl the same age as me growing up in a different culture. There is really something special about having a friend that you can exchange fun things like postcards, drawings, and photos. It all makes the world a bit smaller and friendlier!

    Speaking of world, I am off in a few minutes to cross the big pond and start an adventure in Helsinki and Norway!! I have my Farmgirls on the Loose pin attached to my backpack which I use in place of a purse. Certified Farmgirl on her way!

  3. Debbie Fischer says:

    I love writing letters and I have a few farmgirl pen pals, that I enjoy sending letters too. Sometimes though time gets away from me and I forget to write that special pal. But, as fall and winter approach her in the mountains of Colorado, I am taking my early mornings to write my letters while having my first cup of coffee. Oh life is sweet!

  4. Debbie says:

    I couldn’t agree more M.J. I had a pen pal when I was a young girl. Although she only lived one state away, I so enjoyed sending and receiving letters. Our daughter has a friend who only communicates by snail mail. Yes, she is a bit of an oddity among teenagers. She has been home-schooled all of her life and simply prefers writing to modern technology ( at least for now ). This girl is also our next door neighbor at the beach. She and our daughter catch up once or twice a year in person and the letters fill in the long gaps between summer visits. Thank you for sharing this AMAZING site for finding pen pals. How fun!
    hugs, Deb

  5. Love this post! My youngest daughter homeschools and last year her part of her daughters writting curriculum was writing letters. Myself and hubs added some new stationery and fun stamps to our desk areas so we could write back at least twice a month to each. It was fun thinking of something new to write each time and my hubs always drew some sort of cartoon in his note and got all the praise for his letters. I will pass on this info to my daughter, I think she would love to know about it!

  6. Cat says:

    I miss the days of sending and receiving real, touchable mail! I don’t have a pen pal but every Christmas I try to encourage mailing cards to one another. To me, there’s nothing like giving and getting love through the mail.

  7. Denise says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I love pen pals. I had one when I was a child. What I don’t like is there is someone out there charging $10 for the “matching service”. These are kids, supposed to be learning about new people and new places. So what if they don’t match, they figure that out for themselves. Teachers should be encouraging this with their classes. Grade level and gender is all that matters, not whether they have things in common. That’s part of the fun. It shouldn’t cost anything but the price of a stamp, paper and envelope. If you are creative, the paper becomes the envelope. Cheap fun. I don’t have “pen pals” today. I have certain friends that I write too. I also send what I call “Happy Mail”. Little notes/cards to people I know who could use a little smile/hug, instead of a bill. Just my thoughts.

  8. Lisa Holderman says:

    I am SO happy to know that there are still ways for children to connect around the world. When I was six I found my pen pal from a television show called Big Blue Marbel. Kate lived in London. We connected immediately and that friendship continued into adulthood. Oh as we got older and had families and such our letters got to be further and further apart, but still it is fun to hear from her every once in a while. We only communicated once by phone in all of our years of corresponding, which was a HUGE deal for me on my 9th birthday. International calls were so expensive in the 70’s. I am not sure if it was my friendship with Kate that piqued my interests in different cultures or not, but it was certainly a beginning for me. My husband and I have hosted now six high school students from all different countries which resulted in our traveling to their countries to visit. On one of those visits we did a stop over in London and Kate and I were able to meet for the very first time. It was such a high for me that this came to be. I took all over her letters that I had been saving since our first letter exchange and we had such a wonderful time reading through them, laughing at the things that were so “important” in our lives then. Having a pen pal also got me interested in letter writing and I have been writing ever since. Thank you for encouraging our young people today to communicate in letters. It is fast becoming a lost art. In fact communicating in general other than by text or IMing is becoming a lost art. Did you know many schools around the country are not even teaching cursive handwriting anymore? It is so sad! Anyways, thanks for keeping alive such important and needed skills and art.

  9. SunSeeker says:

    As a Children’s Librarian who has facilitated pen pal programs, I know first hand how much kids love the opportunity to connect with other kids through the written word. They just need to have it presented to them as a fun activity and voila–they’re off and running. Adults need to put down their own eletronic devices now and then to be a role model for their children, who are mimics and will naturally want to do what Mommy or Daddy are doing. And if you catch them young enough, kids will experience the intrinsic pleasure of such activities and are likely to carry them into their adult years to inspire their own children to slow down and partake in deeply pleasurable activities. I grew up having pen pals and have never outgrown the satisfaction of connecting with friends and family through cards and letters. And believe me, my 90 year-old mother (who gets a letter from me every week) is especially glad of that! 📬

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