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December 7th was National Letter Writing Day and you’re probably asking “why is this of any importance?” 

How many of us have received hand written letters in the mail? I’ll wager there are those of us who have received cards for various reasons, but it’s not quite the same. When you receive a card there is usually a reason, and the content reflects that reason. Receiving a letter on a piece of paper can contain anything. The possibilities of what the writer could say are endless. The feeling of holding the letter in your hands knowing someone sat down and had to focus solely on what they wanted to say to you is amazing. Reading through the letter, you are giving it your full focus. When you read a text or email, you are distracted by other notifications popping up, other texts, emails, or snapchats. When you’re looking at a piece of paper, that’s all there is. 

I know from experience that writing a letter is much harder than writing a quick text. However, once the pen starts moving it will fly away with you. While the reader may be surprised at what is on the paper, the writer might very well be too. Writing allows you to follow any train of thought so easily you may begin by talking about something completely superficial and end with something very personal. 

Writing a letter also allows you a sense of style. You can choose the type of paper, writing utensil, envelope, and anything you would like to include with the letter. I love writing my letters with an ink quill, and using a wax seal to enclose the envelope. Maybe you like to write in pens with bright colors, or include sketches and doodles. 

This month, we invite you to write letters to your friends and relatives. Reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while since the pandemic. To help inspire you, below is a list of books in which the characters’ lives have been affected in some way by writing letters. Write one this month and see if it can affect yours as well. 

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place. All the other kids picked countries like France or Germany, but when Caitlin saw Zimbabwe written on the board, it sounded like the most exotic place she had ever heard of — so she chose it.

This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda

In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki of Bainbridge Island, Washington, is horrified to discover that his new pen pal, Charlie Lévy of Paris, France, is a girl, but in spite of his initial reluctance, their letters continue over the years and they fight for their friendship even as Charlie endures the Nazi occupation and Alex leaves his family in an internment camp and joins the Army.

The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman

When a nonprofit organization called Save the Girls pairs a fourteen-year-old Sudanese refugee with an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, the pen pals teach each other compassion and share a bond that bridges two continents.

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

This debut from two emerging YA talents is told through a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship survive the distance?

Letters to The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world famous photojournalist–even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. When Declan finds a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist the urge to write back. Soon, he is sharing his pain with a perfect stranger. When real life interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Dearest Josephine by Caroline George

1821: Elias Roch met Josephine De Clare once and penned dozens of letters hoping to find her again. 2021: In the wake of her father’s death Josie De Clare finds Elias’s letters– and falls in love with a guy who lived two hundred years ago. Star-crossed doesn’t even begin to cover it!

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued–Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful. When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Ollie, who has seizures when near electricity, lives in a backwoods cabin with his mother and rarely sees other people, and Moritz, born with no eyes and a heart defect that requires a pacemaker, is bullied at his high school, but when a physician who knows both suggests they begin corresponding, they form a strong bond that may get them through dark times.

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Incarcerated teen Quan Banks writes letters to Justyce McCallister, with whom he bonded years before over family issues, about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Told in the alternating voices of Dash and Lily, two sixteen-year-olds carry on a wintry scavenger hunt at Christmas-time in New York, neither knowing quite what–or who–they will find.