When things get tough, we crave the connection from seeing friends and family in-person. Pre-pandemic we could offer a hug or celebrate with a night on the town. With those options missing, we fill in as best we can with video calls, emails and social media. While we have amazing technologies to connect online, another more traditional and deliberate way to show someone you are thinking about them is through the post!
A letter is more than just a surprise in your mailbox (although that is great too).
A personal hand-written note or card can provide much joy and connection. Letters are not only a delight to find in a mailbox, but they're special because they take time and effort. Not only does the sender need to create and address the letter, but they also need to buy stamps and put it in the mailbox. The contents of the envelope is where the sender can really show how much they care. Messages of encouragement or gratitude demonstrate to the receiver that they are being thought about no matter how alone they might feel. Studies have shown that receiving mail benefits those who may be struggling.
The sender benefits too
The benefits are not only for the receiver—senders benefit too. Letters offer people a chance to express themselves through their words, handwriting and art. Choosing the paper, pen, envelope, card and even the stamp is a form of self-expression and can be customized to the receiver’s interests. Writing out messages provides an opportunity to ponder and put their feelings into words which can be therapeutic. Lastly, people feel better when they do nice things for others especially in a time when many of our typical ways to provide support and comfort are restricted.
Email or text may be efficient, but taking time to craft a well-meaning message and sending it through the mail can create a lasting moment of connection that benefits both the receivers and the senders.
Join us in celebrating letters
Sending letters may seem time-consuming and fussy in an age of instant communication, but the effort that goes into sending a letter can make a difference in someone’s life.
Explore these picks from our collection that celebrate letters and the art of letter writing. In addition to these picks be sure to visit Creativebug which is an educational video resource that focuses on arts and crafts. You can access Creativebug for free with your library card. Don't have a library card yet, register for one today (it's easy and free). Check out the resources that delve into the crafter parts of letter creation including handwriting, card making and letter writing.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Letters to Dr. Martin Luther King help teen Justyce deal with the struggles of the reality of race relations as a young black man in a predominantly white school. Dear Martin is also available as an eBook and downloadable audiobook.
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Criminal Moist von Lipwig is appointed to a government job of improving the postal system in this fantasy novel sent in Pratchett’s Discworld. In 2010, a television adaptation was created and is available on DVD and for streaming. Going Postal is also available on audiobook CD, eBook and downloadable audiobook.
For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication by John O'Connell
The author explores demise of hand-written letters in a technology obsessed culture. In this essay, the author draws example of wonderful letters from the past demonstrating the variety of correspondence and intimacy and lasting legacy of correspondence created by hand. Check out For the Love of Letters.
A Michigan based magazine of found notes, letters and cards that started in 2000 and 21 years later continues to release collections of all the “strange, hilarious and heartbreaking thing people have picked up.” Found Magazine also founded the Prisoner Pen Pal project.
Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock
The guilty pleasure of reading someone else’s mail is further rewarded as the reader follows the romance of an artist and his muse a half world away. Originally released in 1991, Griffin & Sabine by Canadian author Nick Bantock is not only about art, but is a work of art.
Holy Lands by Amanda Sthers
The correspondence between the dysfunctional family and retired cardiologist Harry Rosenmerch provides comic relief and poignancy as the characters strive to connect with each other as Harry moves to Nazareth to start a pig farm. Read Holy Lands today.
Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-writing by Liz Williams
The Lake House
Letters are romantic no matter when they are sent. Here is a romance based on a Korean film Siwole released in 2000. The Lake House stars Hilary Swank and Keanu Reeves as two strangers occupying the same lakeside home communicating through mail.
Letters of Note by Shaun Usher
Shaun Usher's collection of interesting letters will again allow readers to peak into correspondence meant for another from such luminaries as Mick Jagger to Virginia Woolf and even Queen Elizabeth II's recipe for scones that she sent to President Eisenhower. Read Letters of Note and make sure to check out Usher's website to see more letter in his growing collection.
Other People's Rejection Letters by Bill Shapiro
Other People's Rejection Letters is a collection of letters and other correspondence that unites readers in the sharing of unpleasant flops and the love of reading other’s mail.
The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela
Collections featuring the correspondence of notable people allow us a glimpse into the person behind the name as well as a first-hand account of history. The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela is assembled from collections from the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African National Archives to provide a portrait of Nelson Mandela during the twenty-seven years he was incarcerated.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
This light-hearted romance centers around 16 year old, Lara Jean. Her collection of love letters she never intended to send, suddenly get sent. This book outlines Lara Jean’s suddenly very active love life. To All the Boys I've Loved Before is also available as an eBook, downloadable audiobook and you can catch the movie on Netflix.
We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
Letters from death row and narrative tell the story of two best friends. The goal to leave their small hometown is not the only thing that bonds Luke and Toby. This novel for ages 14 and up, explores themes of family abuse, sex and loyalty ending in a devastating conclusion. We'll Fly Away is also available as an eBook and downloadable audiobook.