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.

Online Knitting Class
Delightful kids' crafts delivered to your door!  See sample crates>>


  1. This is it, what life’s all about, isn’t it?! Recording the here and now to savor and enjoy through time. What a treasure I found just yesterday, running across a diary of my eldest sister who passed this year. I see it as a gentle reminder for my 8 year old daughter and I to get on with it in a purposeful positive way.
    Going to look at your shop now!

  2. Andrea Birch says:

    This sounds so neat. I Am going to look at your website.

  3. Just visited Gadanke and signed up. Nice site and great products that are fun, but not overly decorated or stylized; allows “journalist” to make it hers.

  4. Beautiful journals!

  5. So, so fun! I love the simple beauty of these journals. Thank you for a great giveaway! I know my girls would love to get their hands on these.

  6. It’s hard to motivate kids to journal regularly but even harder to get adults! The very first project in my everyday creativity class for adults is making a journal and then USING IT. Your journal for kids looks awesome!

  7. My daughter loves to write stories (nonfiction and fiction) but does get stuck on what to write. Little prompts for her would be great.

  8. just signed up for Gadanke newsletter

  9. I signed up for the Gadanke newsletter.

  10. What a great idea!

  11. These are great! I would have loved these prompts as a kid 🙂

  12. I also signed up for the newsletter 🙂

  13. I would love to win….your article was such an encouragement for me to get my daughter a journal to help foster creativity.

  14. I signed up for the newsletter.

  15. Miriam Prantner says:

    I just put my first order in at Gadanke, and it shipped! Can’t wait to get them! Thanks for the chance to win….these would make some great Christmas gifts!

  16. Miriam Prantner says:

    I’m already signed up for the newsletter.

  17. My daughter would love this!

  18. Oh I love these! There are several I would choose. Thank you for sharing!

  19. I just signed up for the newsletter.

  20. I’ve never entered a give-away, but I’ve wanted to spend lots of money in your shop forever!

  21. I signed up for the newsletter!

  22. What a great idea for a holiday gift!! 🙂 Great giveaway!

  23. Sounds great!!!

  24. I love the idea of journaling for children!!!

  25. Lisa Vineyard says:

    These are fantastic! I’ve tried various times to get my boys to keep journals with no luck. These just might do the trick!

  26. This would be perfect for my daughter!

  27. I signed up for the newsletter!

  28. These are beautiful

  29. Getting some now, what a lovely idea! Can’t wait to give them for Christmas.
    Heather´s latest post: Patchwork Ball

  30. I signed up for the newsletter!
    Heather´s latest post: Patchwork Ball

  31. These would be a great way to encourage my little guy to write.

  32. I signed up for the newsletter. Thanks!

  33. Sounds fun! Off to check out the website!

  34. I am horrible at journaling but would love to have one of these for my kids so they don’t learn that from me.

  35. I had never heard of Gadanke. What a cool idea!

  36. Our family is living on the road for a year. This journal would be a perfect way for the three kids to not down their discoveries! My daughter was doing this, but her backpack was taken when someone broke into our car :(. We have a makeshift journal in place…but his one is much more fun!!

  37. I love these journals. They would make great gifts for my girls.

  38. I signed up for your newsletter.

  39. I love your journals and follow your blog on making this home. Congrats on moving in! What a lot of work you and Martin have done in the hangar.

  40. I have already registered for your newsletter. I signed up a couple of weeks ago, I believe. Thanks for the great ideas for getting kids to journal. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  41. love this idea… my five year old was just talking about something like this.

  42. This looks really fun. I’m going to check out the website.

  43. I signed up for the newsletters. These are great!

  44. my daughter is just beginning to love writing, I plan to give her some blank books for christmas.

  45. Oh this is just a beautiful post, and the photo of you priceless!!! I have journals with my kids… that I write a little something in and leave under their pillows. They always write something write back and leave it where I will notice it!!! Who knows, maybe they will be writers one day!!!
    se7en´s latest post: Yuppie Chef: The Jolly Cookathon!!!

  46. I was just thinking about this with my daughter! Thank you for your inspiration to write!

  47. Just signed up for your newsletter

  48. I love this idea! I am definitely going to check out her products!

  49. I signed up for the Gadanke newsletter!
    Laura´s latest post: Fluffy to Fabulous: Day 19

  50. nopinkhere says:

    I recently started a shared journal with my son where we write back and forth to each other. I’m really enjoying the fact that he thinks this is cool!