I’ve joined forces with the National Literacy Trust, The Postal Museum and Usborne Publishing to launch an exciting new letter writing project, inviting children to share their experiences of the Coronavirus pandemic with future generations.
The Kids of 2020 Letter Writing Project will run until the Easter holidays 2021 and will invite children to write a letter to a child in 2030 about their experiences during the Coronavirus pandemic, and will culminate in a display of the letters at The Postal Museum. A quarter of children surveyed by the National Literacy Trust said that writing helped when they felt sad in lockdown and couldn’t see family and friends, and one in three children says that letter writing specifically made them feel happy and helped them express their feelings.
One of my favourite things about being a writer is receiving letters from my readers all over the world, and sending them replies. After all, there’s a little bit of magic in letter writing. It lets us share a part of ourselves with others – our thoughts, our feelings, our voice – in a way that’s far more personal than instant messaging or social media. That’s why the train in my books is a travelling post office.
Fay Lant, Senior Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust says: “Writing has a proven positive effect on children’s wellbeing during lockdown: our research showed that 2 in 5 children (41.3%) said writing during lockdown made them feel better. We also found that the school closures last spring prompted a boom for letters as children looked for different ways to stay in touch with friends and family. Usborne’s brilliant new letter writing project is a fantastic way of encouraging children to document their pandemic experiences – and the idea that children should address their future selves is a lovely creative prompt.”
As children who write letters are almost twice as likely to write at the level expected for their age, compared with those who do not write letters, and are more likely to think positively about writing, the Kids of 2020 Letter Writing Project will sustain a love of writing during this tumultuous period of education and show children that their voices and experiences are worth hearing. The brilliant creative people at Usborne and I have joined forces to provide top tips on letter writing, and fun materials based on the characters and stories from the Train to Impossible Places Adventures. The Postal Museum in London have been collecting throughout the pandemic, to capture this unique moment in time. A selection of the children’s letters will become part of The Postal Museum’s collection, as part of this initiative. They will be exhibited in digital format and in a display at The Postal Museum in the future, once venues can re-open.
Children can get involved, either with their school or at home, by visiting www.usborne.com/kidsof2020.