Wow, journals have come a long way since I was a kid and I had a choice between a plain lined composition book or some cutesy diary with an easily pickable lock. Now, journals are so creative, with so many different kinds of approaches and prompts, making them far more appealing to kids.
Journals are not just about documenting your day, either. The benefits of journaling are many, including reducing stress, and creating more positive thinking in your life. And that definitely goes for kids too; in fact, our own pediatrician has recommended journaling to my kids as a healthy way to get out feelings.
With that, here are four really creative, exciting journals I’m loving right now. Whether your kid is artistic, reflective, or political, hopefully there’s one here that fits the bill. Or hey — maybe even for you, too.
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The March Journal, based on the amazing March graphic novel trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell just came out a few weeks back and it’s extraordinary. Peppered with inspiring quotes by Congressman Lewis (Sometimes you have to get in the way and get in good trouble, necessary trouble, to make a way out of no way) and illustrated throughout with frames from the graphic novels, this hardcover journal invites you to “dream, plan, and fight for the causes you care about.”
But really, this isn’t a journal about prompts; it’s a journal about journaling, letting you be your own best self, and work out your thoughts in your own way, until they hopefully they become positive actions. That’s pretty cool.
Doodle Journeys: A Fill-In Journal for Everyday Explorers by Dawn DeVries Sokolis is perfect for kids who best express themselves visually, or want to. The colorful, intentionally messy pages are filled with paint drips, water color splotches, handwritten prompts and Sharpie doodles, which cleverly puts you in a “there are no mistakes” mindset right off the bat.
Prompts range from the abstract: “Move your pencil around on these pages and don’t think about anything in particular. Just let your mind wander with your pencil. (NO erasing!)” To more specific doodle ideas, like “draw the town of your dreams” or designing your own country, including currency, a flag, a map, and landmarks. You definitely get a travel theme here, but as you might have guessed from the title, it’s less about real travel and more about seeing the adventure every day. (On pre-order now for April 17 ship)
Instant Happy Journal: 365 Days of Inspiration, Gratitude and Joy by Karen Salmansohn has been out for a couple of years now, and I really love it for its balance of inspirational prompts and cheeky humor. Multiple pages simply say “You can and you will” at top. There are quotes from George Eliot and Buddha. And then there are fairly self-helpy but still fun prompts like, “Weird is the new awesome: What’s something weird about you — that you love?” And “How many people do you think you made smile today?”
There are definitely some prompts that are more adult in nature, like a thought about eating self-loving foods, which I don’t think my twelve-year-old needs to worry about much, or “Dear Addiction: Write a goodbye letter to a bad habit you’re ready to break.” Even so, the vast majority of the pages should have wide appeal and I know some teen girls who are crazy about it.
Oh, and the best part? The no-pressure tack Salmansohn takes: You fill in your own date on top of each page, so if you don’t do a page a day? So what. No one ever said it has to be 365 days in a row.
If you have a kid who hates the idea of journaling, then Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith is easily the one for them. There’s a reason it’s been a massive best-seller for the past five years; I mean, Keri Smith actually tells you to poke holes in pages? Color outside the lines? Place sticky maple syrup or gum on the paper? Rip out entire pages, crumple them into balls and stomp on them? Yessss!
My boyfriend’s eight-year-old daughter could not get enough of hers (I remember her counting the days until it was time to rip out a page or take it in the shower with her) and that made me an instant fan, too.
It’s such a smart way to let kids know that creativity sometimes comes from undoing, not just doing, and that we can often find inspiration when we just let go, and throw caution out the window. And, maybe even your journal. Literally.
You can find all these books from our affiliate Amazon, or your local independent bookstore.