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. I really love this. What a fun way to introduce and encourage journaling. My mother has filled dozens of journals since my childhood and I can still remember the very first blank one she gave to me as a child. Thank you!
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  2. What a great idea! I too remember as a child struggling with blank journal pages. I think my son would love one of these!

  3. Signed up for the enewsletter, thanks! 🙂

  4. Great giveaway! I still have many journals from my childhood, and many have more blank pages than not because I’d get started and lose inspiration.

  5. Also signed up for the Gadanke newsletter. 🙂

  6. My 13 year old loves to journal. I also have a couple of journals from my childhood. I recently flipped through them, so fun to read them!
    saida´s latest post: Quinoa Waffles

  7. How funny, I read their blog post right before yours. Their journals are great, and so is their renovation.

  8. I love journals and have kept one since I was able to write. What a great giveaway!
    Heather´s latest post: planting garlic

  9. My daughter and I have started a journal where we ask each other a question and answer them. It’s a lot of fun, but these kid journals look like so much fun, too! Thanks for the chance to win.
    Susan´s latest post: old fashioned fun

  10. Love this!

  11. These look so fun! What a great way to inspire young writers. My daughter loves to journal, but like me, she gets tangled up in what to write and the words just won’t flow. What a great giveaway!

  12. We would love this…my oldest is just now learning to phonetically spell, and I love reading his stories!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M´s latest post: Visual Monday: Knitting

  13. I also just subscribed to the newsletter!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M´s latest post: Visual Monday: Knitting

  14. Thanks! I always encourage my children to journal, but I need to do a better job myself!
    Lisa´s latest post: October Books and Movies

  15. Cute!

  16. I love journaling and I think it maybe becoming a lost art with technology and I hope my children will journal and see the benefits of it.

  17. My kids love journalling, and I love journals. Always looking for good books to write in.

  18. I am terrible at keeping a journal, but my best friend is great at it. She finds journals with unique pages, such as these, super motivating. She inspires me to journal better.

  19. I love this idea! Thanks!
    Jessica´s latest post: "Just a Story" = Valuable Moments

  20. I subscribed over at Gadanke! Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!
    Jessica´s latest post: "Just a Story" = Valuable Moments

  21. I’ve filled so many journals and encurage my son,5, to do so as well. He has no problem scribbling throughout mine – his, not so mcuh.

  22. This is a fabulous idea. I think even my reluctant writer could be motivated by these books and prompts. Thanks for the chance!
    Southern Gal´s latest post: T-Rex and a Fashionista

  23. My daughter would love these!

  24. How FuN!

  25. signed up for the newsletter

  26. I have always struggled with journaling and don’t want to pass this on to my children. I love the prompts and think this will help all of us!

  27. I subscribed!

  28. These are wonderful! Thanks for the chance. 🙂

  29. Carol F in NM says:

    These look wonderful! What a lovely way to introduce my son (6) to journaling. Thank you for the give away.

  30. Oh wow! My five year old, our little author, would LOVE these. A Christmas present possibility?

  31. I love how simple these prompts might seem to kids, but that they capture life at that phase in time as memories! Thanks for sharing about your products.

  32. discount code at gadanke doesn’t work?

  33. I signed up for the newsletter. 🙂

  34. Melissa Chambers says:

    Thanks for offering this giveaway. I’d be delighted to win!

  35. This would be a great Christmas gift!

  36. I signed up for the newsletter. 🙂

  37. I LOVE this. My kids love spending time on the sofa reading and drawing, this would give them a new calm activity that would build the habit for their life!

  38. Wow! I love this!
    Mary Beth´s latest post: Selam No?

  39. Signed up for the newsletter!

  40. This is a really neat idea. I have a seven year old who is just learning how to journal at school. Thanks!

  41. These look wonderful!!

  42. Love these journals!

  43. I have been struggling with this very issue. Thanks for giving me a solution.

  44. These journals are great, I would have loved this when I was a kid! (Or even now)

  45. My daughter is a good journal writer. She is an example to me!

  46. I LOVE this idea!

  47. I’m constantly finding scraps of “books” my children have put together, they would love, love these, checking out their website now! Thanks!
    Rebecca Cross´s latest post: Green Eggs

  48. I signed up for the newsletter also.

  49. Brilliant I love these

  50. Oooo – would love this! Great stuff!
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