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Picture Books to Inspire Letter Writing

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The Jolly Postman book
7.0
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The Jolly Postman
Written by Allan Ahlberg & illustrated by Janet Ahlberg and Allan Ahlberg
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
My love for the Ahlbergs runs very deep, and it all started with Each Peach Pear Plum. It’s rather incredible that they’ve managed to make not one but two absolutely delightful books depicting a variety of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters interacting with each other! The Jolly Postman also has interactive envelopes and mail for the readers to read. This one definitely ranks at the top of my favorite letter-writing books!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This gorgeously illustrated, full-color classic celebrates a time before email by depicting amusing correspondence between fairy tale and Mother Goose characters. What could possibly be in a letter from Goldilocks to the Three Bears? Who would write to the Wicked Witch? Open this book, take out the letters, and discover what favorite characters would write to each other–and reimagine best-loved tales together.

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The Gardener book
6.0
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The Gardener
Written by Sarah Stewart & illustrated by David Small
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
While The Gardener is written completely in letters and is therefore a great mentor text for letter-writing, there are so many more wonderful layers to this text. Set in 1935, children are bound to ask questions about why young Lydia is sent away from her parents to live in the city with her uncle. Readers learn about city living and will undoubtedly be inspired to make the most of what they have and to work hard to brighten lives of those around them.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

By the author-and-illustrator team of the bestselling The Library

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece -- an ambitious rooftop garden -- which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile. Sarah Stewart introduces readers to an engaging and determined young heroine, whose story is told through letters written home, while David Small's illustrations beautifully evoke the Depression-era setting.

The Gardener is a 1997 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book.

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The Day the Crayons Quit book
6.0
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The Day the Crayons Quit
Written by Drew Daywalt & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
We received this for a gift before our older daughter was born, and it’s been a favorite in our house ever since. When Duncan goes to use his crayons one day at school, he finds a stack of letters waiting in their place. Letters from the crayons demanding change. Duncan listens, adn the resulting artwork earns Duncan an A+ for creativity… After all, how often are rainbows black, Santas pink, and whales orange? Anything can be when you’re willing to think outside the box! Ages 3-7.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

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Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type book
6.0
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Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type
Written by Doreen Cronin & illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
Cows on a typewriter demanding electric blankets? Yes, please! Cronin and Lewin have a whole series of “Click Clack” books, and while they’re all great, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type is the first and, in my opinion, the best. Cronin also has a “Bug Diaries” series that I forgot about until just now; Diary of a Worm would also be a wonderful mentor text for letter writing, specifically writing in a diary!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

When Farmer Brown’s cows find a typewriter in the barn they start making demands, and go on strike when the farmer refuses to give them what they want.

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Can I Be Your Dog? book
5.8
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Can I Be Your Dog?
Written & illustrated by Troy Cummings
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
My girls LOVE this book. In the few weeks that we had it from the library, we read it multiple times a day every day. Can I Be Your Dog? is a darling story of a dog who really, really wants a forever home. He writes letters to the neighbors on his street, only to be rejected (by mail) by every single one… Until someone totally surprising steps up and writes the dog a letter asking to be his human! It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s tender, it has a happy ending… And it’s written completely in letter format!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A dog looking for a home sends letters to prospective owners on Butternut Street, with surprising results.

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  • Yours Truly, Goldilocks - Children's Lit Love -

    Yours Truly, Goldilocks (and the rest of the Hidden Forest series from Alma Flor Ada) is another wonderful example of a letter-writing text for slightly older readers. Though our 3.5-year-old does indeed love this one, it’s long, so it takes a younger reader with a longer attention span… For siblings, though, pair this with The Jolly Postman, or use it on it’s own in a middle-elementary classroom. As with the Ahlbergs, Ada does an inspiring job of allowing fairy-tale characters’ personalities and known stories to shine through while she extends their lives and connects them to each other. As an added bonus, most of Alma Flor Ada’s books are readily available in Spanish!

  • I Wanna Iguana - Children's Lit Love -

    This one is a delightfully written and hilariously illustrated example of persuasive writing. Young Alex takes to writing letters in an attempt to persuade his mom that he’s ready to have an iguana as his pet. And Mom isn’t falling for it… Fortunately, in addition to being persuasive, Alex is persistent. My girls laugh every time at this one, and I’m sure yours will, too!

  • Dear Dragon - Children's Lit Love -

    Funk and Montalvo deliver a story of misunderstood identity, two friends who write pen pal letters to each other and think they have a grasp on who the other is. Until they meet in person and are in for a big surprise! To make this even better, the teachers dictate that the letters all be written as poems. Through the illustrations, readers are given insight into what the writer meant (the dragon’s father won awards for how much fire he could breathe) and what the recipient believed to be true (the other’s father was actually a human performing fire-breathing acts).

  • Dear Mrs. Larue: Letters from Obedience School: Letters from Obedience School - Children's Lit Love -

    Though our 3.5-year-old was admitely confused about why the dog would be sent to school and had trouble making the leaps between the illustrations depicting the reality of obedience school and the dog Ike’s perceptions of his experience, our older daughter loved this one, and my 2nd- and 3rd-grade-students always enjoyed it, too. For an older audience than many on this list (publishers recommend it for ages 5-6 and up), Dear Mrs. LaRue is a wonderful example of letter writing and conversation starter for understanding different perspectives of an experience.

Letters from Space book
5.0
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Letters from Space
Written by & illustrated by Susan Batori
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
Anderson once spent 5 months on a mission in space, and in Letters from Space, he uses letters and written correspondence to both entertain and educate readers about what life is like for an astronaut in space. Opening with a letter to his mom sent on Flight Day 3 and ending with a letter to Mission Control after he arrived safely back on Earth on Day 152, we get to read fictional letters from Clayton to his mom, his friends, Mission Control, students, his doctors, fans, and more. And while most letters are funny, each teaches the readers something important about what astronauts might actually do and learn on these missions. For example, did you know that in the first few days of a space mission, your head might swell because your heart pumps too much fluid to your brain because it thinks you're still on Earth? Or did you know that scientists ask astronauts to take pictures of specific things on Earth on various missions, comparing these photographs over time to learn about things like ocean health, soil erosion, deforestation, and city growth? Or that astronauts can't wash their clothes in space, so they wear each item for a certain number of days in a row and then simply throw them away? (Yes, even their underwear...). Anderson even writes about the scientific method and Newton's First Law without making it read like a textbook! Be sure to spend time reading through the "PS From the Astronaut" pages at the back. Anderson has filled them with lots of interesting information about various stories he included in his letters, such as why scientists are learning about growing food in their spaceships. A big thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions of this book are my own.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Astronaut Clayton Anderson spent 152 days in space aboard the International Space Station–and while he didn’t mail dozens of letters back to Earth (they would have burned up on reentry!), imagine if he did! These letters from space are full of weird science, wild facts, and outrageous true stories from life in space, complete with hysterical illustrations from Susan Batori. Backmatter includes even more interesting information on space, astronauts, and living among the stars.

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Ten Thank-You Letters book
5.0
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Ten Thank-You Letters
Written & illustrated by Daniel Kirk
Thoughts from Children's Lit Love
I’m a big believer in hand-written thank-you notes. No, I don’t personally expect to receive them from people, but I do believe that a hand-written note of appreciation makes that thank-you extra special, much more special thank a verbal thanks or a text of gratitude. So, I had to make sure to include a book about writing thank-you letters on my list! Kirk’s Ten Thank-You Letters is a perfect addition, as his characters’ thank-yous remind readers that thank-you letters can be written for anything and everything, and that they can often garner more connection than simply saying “thank you.”
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Pig is writing a thank-you note to his grandma when his friend Rabbit comes over to play. Eager to get in on the action, Rabbit writes one of his own . . . and another . . . and another . . . until his flurry of thank-you notes has Pig in a tizzy. Pig just wants to finish writing his note in peace! Fortunately, Rabbit’s last thank-you note reminds Pig how lucky he is to have Rabbit as a friend.

This funny friendship story shows how different personalities can manage to fit together perfectly. Rabbit’s letters to everyone from the president to the crossing guard will have readers chuckling as the delightful duo from Ten Things I Love About You discovers the joy of showing gratitude to the special people in their lives.

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Dear Mr. Blueberry
Written & illustrated by Simon James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Whales don't live in ponds--or do they?
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