There was a time before Facebook and Flickr when people mailed picture postcards to friends and family as they traveled on vacation. They were often called “penny postcards” because the stamp cost just a penny. Here is one from Washington, D.C. in which the writer - Celinda, my grandmother - tells of voting and attending a luncheon with other Daughters of the American Revolution from Ohio. You’ll also notice that this 1935 postcard bears an address with just a name and a town!
Why not make this the summer to bring back the pleasure of picture postcards and summer letters? A dear friend of mine who goes to Minnesota to fish every summer often writes four to six page letters by hand; they can’t be read on the fly as we do with emails and Facebook posts. They must be savored, as I visualize the family members or fishing adventures he describes.
The Year of Good-Byes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells, to the beauty and emotional power of much shorter handwritten notes. The notes include drawings and poetry in a poesiealbum, or autograph book, kept by Debbie devotes her award-winning book, ’s mother Jutta during her last year in Germany in 1938. Young readers continue to add their own poetry to Debbie’s .
In Valerie Tripp’s American Girl book, Changes for Kit, Kit Kittredge writes a letter to the editor dictated by her uncle. She disagreed with it so completely that she wrote her own - and the newspaper printed hers! The teachers who developed the website Books Kids Love include a long list of titles perfect for encouraging letter writing.
Letters help us preserve memories, make political statements or just add pleasure to a friend’s day. Encourage students to write and send a picture postcard from wherever they are going this summer - or even from their own hometown. It is a chance to practice the mechanics of writing an address correctly when it includes more than just a @ and a dot. The space on a postcard is small enough that even reluctant writers might be inspired. A 140-character Tweet would fit just fine!
Encourage students to
• describe something colorful or interesting in a few carefully chosen words, or
• tell what they have been doing so that the reader could visualize it, or
• make a connection with the reader by mentioning something they have in common that relates to the picture or place (hearing a band they both like, seeing a funny dog or cat, flying a kite on the beach), or
• send postcards to a teacher at school so they can be shared in the fall.
Wishing everyone a lovely summer, filled with books - and letters!