Last Updated: 26 September, 2020
Now my children are writing journals I’ve realised they look for different features to me. So here are the seven different journals for children we’ve discovered.
Benefits of children keeping a journal
The oldest journal I’ve kept is from when I was 11 or 12, although I know I wrote earlier ones. I don’t know what triggered my initial writing, maybe the popularity of Adrian Mole books. I don’t think you can be too young to start a journal, and both my children “wrote” them before they could write.
- encourage pen holding and mark making
- encourage flow writing (no revisions or editing)
- practice handwriting
- use to provide ideas for other writing
- provide a safe place to share emotions if they don’t feel comfortable talking to other people (this is what I used my teenage journals for)
- help sleeping by clearing thoughts out of their head
- work through ideas to help make decisions
- capture thoughts and ideas
- a place to complain without upsetting people (I didn’t this a lot about my friends and older sister)
- writing in a book with no rules – they don’t have to write they can draw, do collages, write lists or poems, its what they want
Different journals for children
I think there is something very freeing about a blank notebook as you can do anything with it. My daughter started her first journal in a children’s sketchbook. I would write what she wanted and underneath she would “copy” my writing usually in the form of wild mark making or draw a picture. My son son started his first journal in a small lined notebook and he would draw a picture each day of something that happened that day or an idea he had. He’s hidden the notebook so I can’t share any pictures, but I would love to keep some of his pictures.
I’m not a fan of dated journals because I think it applies pressure to write every day. I remember having lists of days to go back and write at a later date. However, if it provides a structure that is helpful there are many options, including some that are aimed at children.
The only guided journal I’ve used is the Judy Blume Memory Book* (and loved it so much I think I still have it somewhere). I think guided journals are great at encouraging children because their framework means they don’t need to worry about what to write. They can also be helpful to work on a specific topic or issue.
- Journal buddies for girls* and boys*
- Me a compendium*
- Kid’s travel journal*
- Time capsule*
- Big Life journal*
Secret / interactive journal
Having a secret journal is much more exciting than a normal journal. My children have several they love, although their favourites are the ones that don’t have keys, and they are even better if they play music. I don’t understand why manufacturers think boys don’t have an interest in secret journals so all the ones I’ve found have “girl” designs. My son loves his My password journal but it would have been nice to have a choice that was not pink.
It appears the more interactive a journal is the smaller the journalling space gets. For example, both My Password journal* and Project MC2 A.D.I.S.N journal* include extra features including invisible pen and UV light. The My Password journal has an A6 notebook inside while the Project MC2 A.D.I.S.N journal comes with a small, thin pre-printed notebook. However, if you don’t put an iPhone inside, you can probably use the phone holder to fit a thicker notebook. This is what we’re likely to do because we’re an Android house so can’t use the accompanying iPhone app, plus my daughter does not have her own phone.
None of these are better than the others, it depends what features you are looking for in a journal. However, as a tool to encourage children to write my favourites are the TOPModel Secret Code journal* as there is lots of room to write and My Password journal* because it has writing prompts.
- Floral journal with number lock*
- TOPModel Secret Code journal* (this is a newer version of the one we have)
- Diary with lock* (we have a fluffy Smiggle one)
- Project MC2 journal* (bracelet)
- My password journal* (voice activation which works surprisingly well)
Journalling is a way of recording memories and encouraging creativity so can be drawing, painting or doodling. You can start with a plain notebook or there are art journalling books aimed at children.
- Plain paper notebook*
- Doodle diary art journalling for girls*
- The doodle comic book diary for boys*
- Journal sparks*
I started one of these about a year ago with my daughter using a notebook we already had. My daughter doesn’t write in in very often so I wonder if having a preprinted book would encourage her to write more often or whether a plain notebook allows her to write what she wants to write at the time.
- Just between us: mother and daughter*
- Between mom and me: mother son journal*
- Just between us: sisters*
- Dad & Me*
Do it yourself journal
There are many options to create your own journal:
- develop your own template you can print off or fill in digitally each day
- print off journal layouts on Pinterest
- collate writing and drawing you’ve created for other purposes e.g. school essays in to binder or scrapbook. I wished I’d kept my personal essays instead of just recycling the books.
What is your favourite type of journal? Do your children keep a journal?
*Disclosure – My daughter was given the Project MC2 A.D.I.S.N journal to test for this post but all thoughts are my own. Some of these links are affiliate links meaning if you buy something after following the link I will earn a percentage of the sales value but it will not cost you anything extra.