How to encourage kids in their journal writing (plus a Gadanke giveaway!)

Written by guest contributor Katie Clemons of Making This Home.

When I was young, I dreamed of writing a fabulous journal that other kids would read at school some day. I’d curl up in whatever tight corner I could find, and I would write my legendary entry for the day with an erasable black pen.

Or at least I tried to write.

That blank notebook page hit me like a snowstorm in the South. I shut down. I didn’t know what to write. I had no idea how to document the things that made me feel alive or led me to jump out of bed in the morning. As a result, my journal pages became rambling bits of boring information or – and this was usually the case – the pages were left blank. The notebook went forgotten.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult. Sometimes, journal writing is hard. Heck, a blank page can offer an intimidating experience for any type of writing.

This was me. Struggling:

vacation journal
Photo by Katie Clemons

How do we encourage children to document their stories?

Give them silly and serious writing prompts. Make storycatching colorful and fun.

Today, I’m a storycatcher. My goal isn’t about getting my own stories into the world. Instead, I’m on a mission to help other people tell theirs. Story is power. It enriches our lives, challenges us to dream bigger, and strengthens future generations.

And that has to begin with our children. We need to help them see how much their stories matter. We need to foster creativity and guide them in expressing themselves.

Drats. Then there’s that daunting blank page again. Or at least there used to be.

Introducing Gadanke! (gah-dawn-kuh)

journals for children


Gadanke is the award-winning journal shop I run from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana. My books are filled with:

  • writing prompts
  • embellishments
  • materials from Europe
  • 100% recycled paper.
I help people dive in and create a successful, beautiful diary of their lives. My “Jump Up” journals for kids include a splash! A bang! A map to their own hidden treasure. An examination of her bedroom or what an average night at his family’s dinner table is like.

Watching my 90-year-old grandma forget her stories as we sat in NPR’s StoryCorp studio a couple years ago, I was determined to find a way to get my stories onto paper.

I started wondering about all of the other people who have stories deep inside of them. Gadanke was born.

The giveaway

Today, I’d like to give a few lucky people at Simple Kids a few of my journals to help your family celebrate your stories.

Two Simple Kids readers will win $30 gift certificates to Gadanke. Use them on kid journals, travel journals, mini Christmas scrapbooks, personal journals for teens and women, or any of the other handmade books.

To enter

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.

Bonus entry: visit the Gadanke website and sign up for the newsletter for discounts, downloads, and inspiration. Then, come back here to this post, and leave a separate comment telling me you’ve done so.

This giveaway will end at Midnight EST on Friday November 23, 2012. Good luck!

Enjoy 10% off all journals at Gadanke through Sunday at midnight MST with the code: STORYKIDS.

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  1. How wonderful! My daughter would love this!

  2. My daughter would love one of these journals!
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  3. These are so much fun!

  4. Love this! Fingers crossed for my boy.

  5. I want one for each of my kids!

  6. This is a great giveaway! Thanks for the chance to win!

  7. I love journal writing and I really want to give that to my daughter.

  8. I have difficulty writing in journals, too. This seems like such a fun way to record stories and memories!

  9. What a wonderful idea! I can’t wait to start this with both of my reluctant writers….

  10. This sounds great, I am always trying to find ways to get my kids to write more!

  11. I signed up for their newsletter!

  12. I have my fingers crossed for this one. Definately something my daughter would enjoy and help her improve skills shes not doing so well with in school.

  13. i signed up for newsletter

  14. My girls would love these!

  15. Katie – I’ve read your blog for a couple of years now so I love to see your posts on the Simple Living Media sites 🙂

  16. this would be a great gift for my son=thank you!

  17. Such a great idea. I love the idea of bringing out the story teller in all of us.

  18. my daughter would adore this. What a brilliant stocking filler!

  19. Really neat product! My daughter is not old enough but I have 2 nieces who would love this!
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  20. Either one of my boys would love this gift.

  21. Thanks for the giveaway!
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  22. Cool idea! Would love to give these to my kids in their stockings!

  23. what a beautiful journal!! my daughter would love it!!

  24. What a great idea! My son would love this. 🙂
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  25. Love these journals!

  26. I’ll be sharing this with my daughter-in-law. I think this will be a great gift for my granddaughter. And as soon as my husband wakes up, I’m going to suggest this as a gift for our niece.
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  27. This looks wonderful. I have used journals to help my oldest son deal with some health issues these look amazing!

  28. i’ve wanted to try one of her journals for awhile now. thanks for the giveaway!

  29. These are crazy cool!

  30. Interesting idea! I would love to have my daughter or son try this out.

  31. I love the creativity!

  32. Anna Macdonald says:

    What a beautifully creative way to get kids journally. I wold love one of these for my daughter, Mona.

  33. Anna Macdonald says:

    I have just subscribed to your newsletters and am looking forward to exploring the website.

  34. What a beautiful idea! I’d love to win one.

  35. What a wonderful idea to get them journalling. Great one!!!

  36. Great giveaway! I love the journaling idea!
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  37. Subbed to their newsletter!
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  38. I love the journaling idea! How incredibly creative!
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  39. I subb’d to your newsletter! (And RSS feed!)
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  40. Looks very fun! Would love to win one for my daughter!

  41. These look wonderful! I would love to use these with our girls! Thank you for introducing them to us and for the opportunity to win.

  42. Would love to have this for my daughter!

  43. These look great! Wonderful giveaway – thanks for the chance.

  44. I signed up for their newsletter.

  45. Jackie Watson Davis says:

    These are so cool! Would love to try them.

  46. Jackie Watson Davis says:

    subscribed to their mailing list! 🙂

  47. We are going on a long trip (five months!), and this would be a wonderful tool for my son to keep practicing his writing while he’s not in school. Fingers crossed!!

  48. Those are amazing!

  49. I subscribed 🙂