Today, in the UK it’s World Vision’s National Letter Writing Day. According to a survey commissioned by the charity, one in five British children have never received a handwritten letter.
As a child, I loved receiving letters – letters from pen pals, letters from friends and letters from grandparents. When my father would occasionally go away for work, he would always leave me a long letter on my pillow so I could feel close to him when he wasn’t there. I have shoe boxes filled with the letters I was sent.
Going back to the World Vision survey, more than a quarter of children have either never written a letter by hand or it has been more than a year ago since they did. Fifty percent of the 11-year-olds and a third of the 14-year-olds do not know how to lay out a letter.
A letter is so much more personal than an email or text or a message sent on a social networking site. It takes more time and effort to pick up pen and paper, and the reader can feel this extra attention. Not surprisingly, more than half the children surveyed said receiving a handwritten letter made them happy because someone was thinking about them.
Letter writing also enables you to take more time and pay more attention to the language you’re using, which is especially important for children developing their literacy skills. While seven percent of the surveyed children admitted having to reply to a handwritten letter makes them feel scared because they don’t know how to write a proper letter, almost a third feel happy because they’re able to share things with someone else.
While it seems that letter writing is a dying art, this skill is still very much needed. There are jobs which require formal letters to be written and formal application letters are part of the job-hunting process. Some educators believe children should be taught literacy using emails and texts, but what will these children do in the future when they have to write a letter?
Letter writing is a key aspect of World Vision’s Child Sponsorship programme.