Joys of Journal Writing

The long hot days of summer are coming, and with them there will be time for sports, time for camp, time to dream, and time to do. Time to start a diary or journal?

A journal can be written for only yourself, to write down the things that are important to you: lists of favorites (music, t.v., and movies), pictures of friends and family, and, of course, your innermost thoughts. Fun times deserve to be remembered, and sometimes writing about a bad situation can help you deal with it better as you think it through on paper. That kind of journal is personal, and you may not wish to share it with anyone.

When a teacher assigns a journal, she may be looking for your reaction to things that happen in the news or in your community. If you are assigned to write a journal, your teacher should give you more specific guidelines. For those times when you want a jumpstart for journal ideas—either how to begin or what to put on your pages, we have some books and web sites with excellent suggestions for getting your writing to show the real you. 

In the Library

Writing Your Own Journal

A Book of Your Own: Keeping a Diary or Journal by Carla Stevens
Writing a journal may be an assignment, a joy, or both. There are many ideas here to get the creativity going plus good advice and examples from famous journal keepers Anne Frank, Louisa May Alcott, and others.

It's All About You: Writing Your Own Journal by Nancy Loewen
Tips and tools for the youngest journal writers. Part of the Writer's Toolbox series.

Writing Down the Days: 365 Creative Journaling Ideas for Young People by Lorraine M. Dahlstrom
Stuck for journal ideas? There are jumpstarts here for every day of the year from the realms of history, literature, and strange facts.

The Young Writer's Handbook by Susan J. Tchudi
A practical guide on all sorts of writing, including journals.

Journals to Read

Journals can be as much fun to read as to write. These journals are fiction, but they do try to show how people thought and lived long ago.

Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht by Richard Platt
In ancient Egypt, Nakht records his experiences as his family moves from small town Esna to the big, exciting city of Memphis, where he studies to be a scribe like his father and helps discover who has been robbing graves. Includes nonfiction information about Egyptian culture.

Emma's Journal: The Story of a Colonial Girl by Marissa Moss
10-year-old Emma tells what she saw in Boston from 1774 to 1776, from the British blockades to the Boston Massacre. Part of the Young American Voices series.

A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos
Catherine lives on a farm in New Hampshire where she must learn to keep house for her father and help a mysterious figure called the Phantom. A quiet book written in an older style. Winner of the Newbery Medal.

Joshua's Westward Journal by Joan Anderson
In 1836, Joshua and his family travel as pioneers into Illinois, where they survive disastrous hardships to establish a prosperous farm of their own.

The Journal of James Edmond Pease, a Civil War Union Soldier by Jim Murphy
James Edmond, a sixteen-year-old orphan, joins the Union Army and is ordered by his commanding officer to keep a journal of his unit's experiences. James comes to grips with the realities of war. Part of the I Am America series.

Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal by Anna Kirwan
In 749, the Maya princess Green Jay, of the Kingdom of Bacal, writes in her diary about her arduous journey to Xukpip to meet King Fire Keeper, her future husband.

Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth's Diary, Jamestown, Virginia, 1609 by Patricia Hermes
Nine-year-old Elizabeth discovers that the New World is full of challenges: dire illness, horrible weather, and starvation, but there are new friendships to discover as well. Part of the My America series.

On the Web

Easy Journals for Kids
www.essortment.com/easy-journals-kids-57091.html
Good ideas for a beginning journal writer. Get started writing a personal journal today!

Journal Writing Worksheets
www.schoolexpress.com/fws/cat.php?id=2541
For beginning writers who need a nudge to get them going, these worksheets suggest interesting topics, and there is one for each day in the year. To use, left-click on the sheet you want. Then left-click again to make it bigger. Click the .pdf print button at the top, and you will be ready to go. Just click print one more time.

 Meet Virginia Hamilton
teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/diary/descriptive_meet.htm
Virginia Hamiliton, beloved African-American children's writer, gives tips for creating a meaningful journal. Part of Scholastic's Writing with Writers series.

Writing Prompts for Kids
Stuck for what to write about? Here are some ideas to get you started.