If you haven’t taken out the old pen and paper (or note card – they don’t have to be long), and penned a few words to a friend, there’s no time like the present. In fact, since this holiday falls at the start of a new year, why not write them and wish them a Happy 2013?
And we wouldn’t be Lit For Kids if we didn’t have a book or two (or more) to recommend. This list is good across the ages. We found too many to include in this post, so stay tuned for more suggestions in 2013!
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama and Loren Long
Not only does he write a tender and moving letter to his daughters, Barack Obama also pays tribute to important contributors to America’s culture and ideals. In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, children are introduced to both virtues and heroes at the same time. Personal favorites like Helen Keller for her strength, Georgia O’Keeffe for her creativity, and Cesar Chavez for his inspiration grace the pages of this book, all written in the genre of a a letter. It’s an amazing book that represents the potential and character of the American people.
Dear Peter Rabbit by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Leslie Tryon
Famous storybook characters write letters, too. At least they do in this tale by Alma Flor Ada, who takes us behind the scenes in make-believe-land, where Goldilocks (MacGreggor) and Baby Bear are now friends (and Goldilocks needs to write to invite him to her birthday party). The Three Little Pigs are busy planning their housewarming–but Peter Rabbit can’t attend; he’s caught a cold in Mr. MacGreggor’s garden. There is a flurry of correspondence before all the events and characters get straightened out, but not before some intrigue in criss-crossed letters being delivered. The whole story is told through the letters written among the characters. Lots of fun for everyone!
Sincerely Yours: Writing Your Own Letter by Nancy Loewen
Short and sweet, this book is a good resource to introduce–or review–just what goes into the format of a friendly letter. Elementary teachers we know have used this, as well as other books in Nancy Lowen’s series for young writers, in their writing workshops or at letter-writing stations.
Dear Mermaid by Alan Durant and Vanessa Caban
A bit like the classic The Jolly Postman, Dear Mermaid is especially fun for little hands to take out the tiny letters exchanged between the mermaid Princess Kora and Holly, the human child who finds her purse–and ultimately helps the mermaid on her quest to find the golden key! It’s also fun to leave extra notes in the book to extend the story. Note to adult co-conspirators: you probably want to help the child readers put the tiny letters back in their envelopes so they’ll be there for the next reading.
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Bevery Cleary
Leigh Botts is an aspiring young writer and decides to write to his favorite author, Mr.Henshaw. The entire story is told through these letters, which grow into more of a place for Leigh to tell about his struggles with his parents’ divorce, his lack of friends, and his wish to be understood. Readers are treated to Beverly Clearly’ warm writing style, and her ability to weave realistic and compelling stories and anecdotes into her books for children. As Leigh matures, he comes to see the power of writing for himself–and decides to write in a journal. A satisfying and believable ending.
Marty has an amazing talent! He can write to dead people–and they write back! He makes this astounding discovery when he decides to write to Napoleon for his assignment “to write a letter to a famous person.” Imagine his surprise when he receives an answer from the Emperor himself–with a Paris postmark. What is the secret of his post office to the past? His grandfather, recently moved to a nursing home, tells Marty that he has a secret courier system that can travel through time. A sweet and entertaining story with humor, mystery, adventure, and cross-generational friendship and loyalty. And of course, letters written and letters answered across centuries.