Tips for Pen Pals


Did you have a pen pal when you were a kid? I did! I ended up corresponding regularly with some friends that lived in Japan and another girl who lived in Louisiana. It was always fun to go to the mailbox or get home from school and find a letter on the table. My daughter has recently started writing 2 friends that we met one time. This is an exciting new experience to have pen pals. But I know that there are some tips for pen pals that will help them make this great!

Tips for Pen Pals

I had a friend when I was in 5th grade. She and I became the best of friends. When Lee and her family moved away to Louisiana, it was really tough on both of us. But our parents were very wise and reminded us that ‘goodbyes aren’t forever.” We started writing back and forth and have continued to stay in contact. Now our contacts aren’t by letter; instead, we keep up with each others lives via Facebook. Writing back and forth has given us a way to see a world bigger than ourselves with nothing more than pen and paper. I’m excited that my daughter is now getting this same experience.

Tips for Pen Pals

  • When you get a letter – make sure you write back!  There’s nothing worse than having a pen pal who never responds.  My daughter has been loving the trip to the mailbox when she is expecting a return letter!
  • Have an adult proof it.  Before my daughter sends off a letter, I check it.  I’m not concerned about a misspelled word.  What I check for is to make sure that the reader on the other end will be able to understand the questions or read her writing.
  • Answer Questions!  Ask a few more!  A good pen pal will ask a few questions and then make sure you answer back.
  • Be honest!  But not too personal!  Remember that a pen pal is not usually a close family member.  Don’t share personal information that needs to be kept private.

Sample questions to get you started: 

  • What is your favorite animal? food? color?
  • Do you have a pet?
  • Where do you go to school? grade? favorite subject?
  • Do you like to read?  favorite book?
  • Favorite movie/tv show? Why?
  • Do you like to play outside?  What do you like to play?

Where to find pen pals

The #1 place to find a pen pal is to look at your long distance set of friends. If you are on Facebook, then look at your friend list. Do you have any one who lives far away with kids similar ages as your children? Start there. My pen pals always had a family connection.

If you don’t find something there, talk to your child’s school teacher or if they are involved in scouts or a church program, check with their leader. Chances are someone will know a long distance family who would love to become pen pals.

I know there are programs online that will match pen pals, but I would much rather have a more personal connection to the pen pals my kids are writing.

Do you have a penpal?  Have you ever written back and forth to a friend that lives in another state or country?  Got any great tips?  I’d love to hear!

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