Today I want to a little evangelizing: a great big shout-out to the Letters for Kids program!
Letters for Kids is a very inexpensive subscription program that connects kids with writers. Twice a month, a child receives a physical letter written by a children’s book author. Kids can then write back to the author if they’d like. Usually the featured author also offers a signed book as a giveaway prize.
This is brilliant.
Writers get a chance to speak directly to their readers–not just about the “writing process” stuff but about anything the writer wants to share. Kids get a sense of who the writer is as a person and are given the opportunity to respond. They will see that the writer’s own experience of life isn’t all that different from their own. And they will learn that their own thoughts and ideas have value.
As an added bonus, they’ll know the thrill of getting an important letter in the mailbox, with their own name on it!
I recently took part in this program myself and am so glad that I did. I’d spent the previous months slogging through some difficult and decidedly un-inspiring writing assignments. But in this letter, I got to write about the walks I take with my dog, a beagle named Dorie. I got to share all sorts of pictures and spend some time thinking deeply about the things that mattered to me a lot more than the other work I was doing…things like super-long shadows and an odd shoe in the snow and a broken jar of pickles on the sidewalk. Writing was fun again.
Letters for Kids is managed by The Rumpus, a coalition of sorts for literature enthusiasts. (Note that the site itself is for grownups.) From The Rumpus website:
We know how easy it is to find pop culture on the Internet, so we’re here to give you something more challenging, to show you how beautiful things are when you step off the beaten path. The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how, and to invite each of you, as readers, commenters or future contributors, to do the same.
But back to the actual kids. If there are children in your life who like books–or who don’t, yet, but could use a little nudge in that direction–consider subscribing to the Letters for Kids program. Consider giving a subscription as a gift to your child’s classroom. Consider donating a subscription to an underfunded school.
Imagine how all those letters, over time, could create a world of possibility in a child’s mind.