Learning Through Letter Writing

Above is the board for the Calais Free Library’s Pen Pal Program. On it are listed the 80 libraries that are currently participating in the Pen Pal Program. The map helps the kids participating figure out where they are sending their letters and where it is in relation to Maine. (Photo by Kaileigh Deacon).

By Kaileigh Deacon


For the second summer, the summer reading program at the Calais Free Library will be participating in a pen pal program. The program started last summer when a librarian from Connecticut emailed other librarians asking about interest in a pen pal program. The Calais Free Library, along with forty other libraries across the country, participated in this program. 

This year the library  waited eagerly to participate in the program again and discovered  that it had doubled in size from forty libraries to eighty. The Pen Pal Program now has over twenty states across the United States participating. 

Kids of all ages are encouraged to participate in the program.  The letters aren’t necessarily with other kids but encourage kids to learn not only about their own state and city but others as well.  Kids will write letters to a library they choose from the list and tell them about where they’re from.

Youth librarian Joyce Garland helps the kids figure out things they can tell the other libraries such as our proximity to the Canadian border, blueberry raking and other facts about our area. As they write their letters about Calais, they also get the chance to learn more about their town and state. 

This year a teacher on exchange in Russia has said she would like her students  there to participate in the program so kids from all over the US will get the chance to learn about another country from someone their own age. 

When the kids get letters backs, they read them and learn about other states, in turn talking  to their friends about things they learned in these letters.  On the back of the list of libraries and map there is a place for the kids to hang the letters and drawings they receive.

So while the kids get the chance to have fun writing to other people and sharing a little bit about their community and themselves, they are having fun  getting to learn about geography and  history as well as practicing their penmanship. They also get the opportunity to stay away from the screen for a little while and talk to someone with handwritten notes and pictures. 

Wanting to include as many kids as possible, the library had reached out to the Day Camp program to get them involved as well. The Day Camp participated and thanks to the help of some library volunteers, the library will be able to include them again. 


For anyone who wants to participate in the program they can go to the library after the summer reading program at 1:30 p.m. For more information on the Pen Pal Program you can contact the Calais Free Library. The summer reading program Libraries Rock and lunch with a librarian take place just before the pen pals event so kids can come participate in some activities and perhaps   work on their reading skills before school.