How to Get Your Kids Started With Pen Pals


Having grown up in the eighties and nineties, I have lots of memories of life before the internet. Some of my most treasured memories are of writing and receiving snail mail with friends, family, and pen pals.

Handwritten letters were my primary mode of communication with my sister who went to college when I was 10. I remember faithfully writing letters to friends I met at summer camp. My fourth-grade class was part of a pen pal program. We had class time to write to our pen pals. As a teenager, I wrote to my great grandmother and asked her if she would be willing to share any memories she had from growing up during WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII.  Over twenty years later, I can still remember the moment I tore open the envelope of the letter she sent back and treasure the memories she shared.

Call me sentimental, but I often long for the days when snail mail was simply called, “mail”. 

I want my children to experience the thrill of putting pen to paper, dropping a carefully addressed envelope in the mailbox, and wondering when their chosen recipient will get their letter.

Handwritten letters sent via snail mail are not a thing of the past. Many people are dedicated to keeping this practice alive.

How to Find a Pen Pal

Want your kids to experience the joy of writing with a pen pal? Get started with these tips!

  1. Start with your social media accounts. Raise your hand if you have reconnected with old friends, maybe from your childhood, whom you lost contact with years ago. Do any of them have kids of their own close to your kids’ ages? If you sense that it could be a good fit, reach out to them. Ask if they want to be pen pals with your kids.
  2. Contact out-of-town relatives. I am a native Texan. I moved to Iowa nearly 16 years ago. This means I live far away from my extended family. My relatives love getting handwritten letters from my kids and write back.
  3.  Check out some pen pal programs. A simple google search will yield lots of results for pen pal programs with safety precautions in place and encourage both e-mail and snail mail exchange. Check out Penpal World, Students of the World, and my personal favorite: the Secret Society of Letter Writers.
  4. Invest in some great stationery. There are some fabulous products that can really spark enthusiasm for kids and adults to get writing. Head over to one of my favorite local shops, Ephemera in the East Village, and ask them to show you some great stationery options for your kiddos, including this DARLING pen pal kit!

And if for some reason, these ideas strike out for you, leave a comment. Our family always has room in our hearts for new pen pals!


  1. Thanks Val! I love the idea for creating pen pals between kids and residents at nursing facilities! So much potential benefit for both groups!

  2. Great idea, my kids school just started a penpal programme and I was thrilled as I have had penpals all my life and I cannot express how much it has enriched my life. If you are looking for another penpal website that is family friendly and safe – you can’t go past Global Penfriends.


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