Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Be a Penpal to Your Grandchild

Mailbox surrounded by flowers - Being a penpal to your grandchildren - Adventures in NanaLand

Mailbox surrounded by flowers - Being a penpal to your grandchildren - Adventures in NanaLand


“For Grandkids, getting mail is just as much fun whether it comes from across the country or across the street.” 

I started something last year that has turned out to be so much fun! I became a penpal to my granddaughter in Texas. She was just learning to write and could address a letter by herself. So, I bought her some pretty stationery, envelopes, a fun pen, and some stamps. And. . .voila! I had a new penpal!

When I was a kid way back in the 1900’s. . .

one of my favorite times of day was when I would hear the mail truck come down our street. Our mailman’s name was Les. He and I were good friends. Why? Well, because Les brought me the most exciting things in the mail.

I remember when my birthday would get close, and I would wait until I heard him drive around the corner. Then I would run outside and wait patiently until he got to my mailbox. . .okay, so NOT so patiently. Les would always ask me how my parents were doing and ask what I hoped would be in the mail for me that day. I would squeal with joy if he said, “It looks like you have a birthday card from your grandma here.”

There were other times, like at Christmas and the BIG toy catalog would come. . .well, I think we all remember how exciting that was. There were Christmas cards and junk mail and magazines – I loved them all! I just loved getting mail even when it wasn’t for me!

Happy child getting a letter from a mailbox

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My Grandma was a penpal too!

However, one of my favorite pieces of mail was when my grandma would get letters from her brothers and sisters from far away. It was then that I learned that being a penpal was not something new. . .it went way back to the 1800s and before.

My grandma lived with us and couldn’t see very well. So from the time I could read and write cursive, I read the letters to her. Then, she would dictate letters to me, and I would write back to her brothers and sisters. It might have seemed like a chore to some kids, but I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Aunt Vivian’s grandson who fell down the well or read about Uncle Ted’s new sports car. And then. . .there was always the latest family gossip!!

I’m an impatient penpal!

When I was trying to find a better way to connect with my granddaughter in Texas, I thought back to those days when mail was so very exiting! So, I proposed to my granddaughter that I wanted to be her penpal. When I explained the concept, she eagerly said she wanted to do it too! I emphasized that in the world we live in, it might be hard to have enough patience to wait for our letters to reach each other.

What I didn’t expect was how hard it was for ME to wait!! Ha ha!

Senior man getting mail from a mailbox - Be a penpal to your grandchildren - Adventures in NanaLand


The Top 10 Reasons I LOVE Being a Penpal

I love being a penpal to my granddaughter! Here are my top 10 reasons why I do it:

  1. I loved to get mail (YES, snail mail!) as a kid, and I wanted my granddaughter to experience the same thing. (Besides, letter writing through snail mail is kind of a lost art.)
    9. It helps your grandchild improve their penmanship and writing skills without it seeming like homework.
    8. I get to share my perspective on life with my granddaughter and she can’t “click away” or “silence” me.
    7.    I get to cheer on my granddaughter when she has cool or hard things to deal with.
    6.    Exchanging special birthday letters is something awesome that we both do.
    5.    It’s a way to do something special with her, because I can’t do things with her on a regular basis.
    4.     It shows her that I truly care about her.
    3.     It creates a special bond between us.
    2.     I get to know my granddaughter better as we share stories, likes, dislikes, and secrets.
    1.     And the #1 reason to be a penpal?  Well. . .it’s FUN!!!

Speaking of fun, here are some fun things you can do with and for your new penpal:

  • Buy cool stamps – The post office often has a variety of stamps. You can even buy them online! Kids really like ones that have characters or places they recognize. So, go out and buy some for you and your grandchild.
  • Use stickers – When you send a letter, be sure you put stickers on the envelope! That way, your grandchild will recognize the letter is from his/her special penpal.
  • Share jokes – My grandchildren and I enjoy finding jokes for each other. Laffy Taffy is our favorite source of kid-friendly jokes. (It’s fun to send the candy along also.)
  • Send pictures – Sending posed pictures to each other can help you see how they are growing and can help them see how you are changing too. However, it’s so much more fun to send funny, candid pics that belong just to them and they can put on a mirror or wall in their room.
  • Send postcards – When I am out and about around the country, I love to send postcards to my grandkids of the places I visit. I try to give them a bit of trivia about the place I’m visiting. I also include a note to say how much I miss them.
  • Share your favorite poems – Share a favorite poem with your grandchild. My grandkids actually love Shel Silverstein! Find poems that are funny or have a special meaning. Encourage them to memorize them. It will be something fun that you share together.
  • Use puzzles – I used to do this with my childhood penpal. You can find inexpensive 25-piece puzzles to send through the mail. Put the puzzle together before you send it, flip it over, and write a secret message on the back meant just for your penpal. When your grandchild gets the puzzle, tell them there is a secret message on the back that they will be able to see when it is all put together.
  • Send small gifts– send something small that can fit into an envelope and send it “just because.” Your penpal grandchild will be over-the-moon excited about getting a gift, no matter how small.
  • Send special invitations – if you are planning a visit or there is a special event coming up, make up a special invitation or reminder of the upcoming affair. They will feel soooooo special!
  • Give supplies – Send fun stationary, rubber stamps, stickers or anything that might help make letter writing fun. You could even add crayons, colored pencils, or markers so they can draw you pictures. And. . .don’t forget the postage stamps!
    Cute stationary for being penpals with your grandchildren

Create a Penpal Kit for Your Grandchild

You can actually use that last suggestion and create a little penpal kit either as a gift or just to get them started. Below are some suggestions for supplies. Put all these things together and create a special penpal kit for your grandchild.

I don’t think I mentioned that it would be a great keepsake to hand write your letters (cursive or printed – whatever your grandchild can read). My grandmother had the most beautiful cursive handwriting. I greatly cherish the things that I have from her that are handwritten. We don’t do enough of this in our computer age. . .and don’t even get me started on the fact that they have taken teaching cursive writing out of school curriculum!

It only takes minutes to write a letter, but the impact on your relationship with your grandchild could last years. Getting to know them better and building a great relationship is worth the effort to have them as your penpal. As a matter of fact, your grandchild might get to know you well enough to send you a little gift in the mail – like this special little heart-shaped rock from one of my favorite penpals!

Heart-shaped rock with the word Love and an arrow pointing from word to rock. grandchild penpal sent a rock in mail

Oh, and just because your grandchild lives close by is no reason that you can’t be a penpal to them too. Getting mail is just as much fun whether it comes from across the country or across the street.

So, dust off that old stationery set with the cute graphics in the corner and matching envelopes and start writing! You will never regret it! I promise!


Cookies & Milk for Everyone!

Nana Jill Signature with yellow flower



P.S. If you would like some fun activities that you can share with long-distance grandchildren (or even those who live close by), download our FREE Activity Printables today!


4 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Be a Penpal to Your Grandchild”

  1. ‪Shula Shneor‬‏

    I live in Israel and my grandson who is 2 lives in Toronto. I’d like to get new ideas for activities on skype. We meet on skype once a week. I loved your suggestions on this post. Thank you in advance

    1. Thanks, Emily! I’d love to hear about your experiences becoming a penpal to your grandchildren. Even when they’re just drawing pictures, I think it’s as exciting for me to get the mail as it is for them!

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