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little girls' journals

for the past nine months the girls have (more or less) been keeping a journal and it has been awesome. long before i ever had children i planned how i would have "journal sundays" every sunday, i've even got it written down in a journal of my own somewhere.. we would come home from church and, after a healthy snack, we'd all sit down to reflect on our week and write in our journals. i would gently encourage the kids and we'd all smile.. that vision makes me laugh. the reality is much less serene but (mostly) much more fun. healthy sunday snacks have been replaced by desperate fistfuls of tortilla chips and doughnuts (it's true.. the deperate post-church hunger is satisfied by whatever chip sees first when he opens the cupboards), the journal writing is completely sporadic and sometimes totally enforced on reluctant little girls, but the records eve and ruth have of their own lives so far are pretty perfect in their sweetness, their craziness, and their awesome truthfulness.

eve. may 4, 2009. "no i don't like diurreah. i liked waching angelena ballrena"

ruth: april 21, 2009
mom: what did you want to say about your day?
ruth: i didn't want to say about my day
m: what is this picture?
r: jungle
m: what else?
r: i don't want to tell you.

eve: may 10, thursday. "i loved the little mermaid at times square."

ruth: may 10, 2009 "this is ariel and flounder. i goed to the little mermaid at the play. it was in Times Square. my favorite part was when ariel got the pink dress and when she got married. my daddy was named chip and i watched a play with dad. i wish i could see ariel again because i wish i could see the married part again."

to make "keeping a journal" something approachable i gave the girls a very simple formula to start with: draw or write about their favorite part of the day/week along with their least favorite. eve was totally in from the moment i introduced the idea and has stuck to the formula with few exceptions. ruth, on the other hand, heard the plan, made a bizarre face, rolled over and began complaining about not knowing any real princesses.. she has mostly stuck to her own formula of journal keeping, which at the beginning involved her drawing about whatever she wanted to while i pestered her to tell me about it. but now that she is starting to not only draw but write on her own (and realizing just how long it takes to make all those words) the formula is coming in handy, even for ruthie who likes to do everyhting her own way.

(two page spread) eve: june 3, 2009 "no i do l" [beginnings of "no i don't like"] june 4, 2009 "i poukt [puked] on charlies birthday. today i lovee ma-king the teve purojec [tv project]."

ruth: june 2, 2009

ruth: 10.9.09, "keira, tessa, eden, monet, malena, ruth, ms. jin. we're all starting a show on the stage."

eve: october 9, 2009. "i like gayb"

ruth: january 15, 2010. "planetarium. i did not like when it exploded i liked the gas of the sun."

there is so much i love about ruth's and eve's magical journals. i love that they don't think too much about what they record, they just do it. i love that they want me to look at everything they draw and write, because i know that won't last. and i love having this record of their drawing and writing progression. but most of all i love that it is their own marks that fill each page. it is all their own words, their own takes on their own lives, not my interpretation or perspective, but theirs. just as journals should be.


next up: the making of the journals.

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Reader Comments (49)

i'm dying over how cute and hilarious these are...what an excellent idea!

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjo

My oldest (then 4) had a journal last summer. We used the idea of the "free texts" they make at school. She is in a Freinetschool. They make a drawning about something they want to talk about and the teacher writes down the story, exactly the way they say it. They use the same book for 9 years (!), from the moment they how to write, they do it themselves.
Anyway, she had a journal for the whole month of july. Than she was tired doing it. Reading your story, I realize that writing everyday is too much. She was very enthousiastic, and I think that overload of enthousiasm made her tired of it. But we do have nice stories in it. And seeing it now, I see how much her drawnings have changed. I guess I 'll talk about again with her.
You can see our project here:
(there is a translation button in the sidebar (just in case)

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVermiljoen

These are awesome. So sweet/funny! As someone with no kids, but who spends more time than necessary thinking about if/when, I will definitely be filing this idea away.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Long time reader, first time poster (forgive me-I've always wanted to say that)

I love that you are persistant with this. I attempted to introduce journaling with my girls this year (9 and 10) and the conversation went soemthing like this:

Me: You can use these nice notebooks for journaling!
Them: Say what now?
Me: I'd like you to keep a journal-just write something in it...anything.
Them: Whatever we want?
Me: Yep, whatever you want! (Getting all excited thinking they liked it)
Them: no thanks.

Maybe I'll try a weekly reflections one...

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterd @ qdm

Your daughters will LOVE re-reading these in a few years. My Mom wrote stories that I dictated when I was 4, and to this day I crack up when I find them among all my special papers. I also have booklets of stories I hand wrote (with varying levels of help). They are priceless.

Plus, when your daughters are rich and famous memoir authors, you'll have this to show off as their starting point.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Love, love, love that you are encouraging your girls to journal! I bought both my girls (3 and 6) hardback spiral bound journals with lines on the right side and blank paper on the left side. We don't have a dedicated sit-down time to do this, but I will casually mention, "this might be something to write in your journal..." It's always fun to listen as they read their entries, to see their pictures, and to find the little treasures pressed between the pages (a feather, a gum wrapper, a few flower petals, sometimes the gum from said gum wrapper...)

I'm also hoping to gather all those loose pieces of art and get them bound into a book so we can flip through those and see how their art evolves over time.


January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhayley l.


that mermaid entry just shows you've got a little jessica hische on your hands.

and i don't like diurreah either!

could these be any more hilarious? no. no, they could not be.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

What an awesome idea. I like the idea of having a day to do it, too. Mmm...we might have to start this Sunday.

wow ! amazing art work !!!!! how cool it will be to read this in twenty years......!
(please excuse my surely strange english, I'm french.. and I love your blog ! 8 years ago (when I was young and free..!) I use to live in Brooklyn (now I'm back to France and have 2 kids and a lot to do) and I keep a very good souvenir of this time !

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteridle

Hello, every now and then I come to your blog and I always enjoy what I see. Thanks for sharing your girls journals. Truly precious. They are really a work of art and have so much expression in them. Eve's playful handwriting is just incredible. I can almos see a typeface designed out of that! ;-)

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLuciana

What a GREAT idea...will be stealing it asap...

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle LeBlanc

this is beyond precious. can i ask how old they were when you began the journaling?

i love the fact that bodily functions are included and not discouraged by mom or dad...they made me laugh out loud.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermamie

Lovely idea! I will definitly do it with my little girls.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

haha, how adorable! I love that they keep journals! I started keeping a journal when I was about 7ish... It's really fun to look back on. I'm sure your girls are going to love doing the same one day! It's also such a great way for them to be creative! =]

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereef

These are treasures.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmmie

love the planetarium entry! my kids hate that i make them do this too, but i figure they'll be thanking me later.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam

It's a great idea and their memories are so fabulous! Looking forward to hearing how you made them.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterViv

Fantastic idea and fantastic drawings. When I was small, my great grandma started me on the journal writing and it's something that has stayed with me. Although my drawings are no way as beautiful as those of your daughters. I am hoping my daughters will enjoy writing journals as well.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrula

What a lovely idea! I will steal it in a few years...

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBaboon

totally LOVE these! and once a week makes it managable!

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterheather

Trust me they will LOVE these when they are older. When my mother passed away the majority of what she saved were stories that we wrote and artwork of ours. I am happy that they were what she deemed the most important items to keep.

Here is a book that I made that she kept that I scanned in.

I love love love your blog.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara Jensen


January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

I love this idea! I will definitely try to incorporate it when I have kids of my own. I'm obsessed with taking pictures of my surroundings for future documentation and am a bit afraid that I might only see my future kids through a lens. This might be a good trick to put a lid on that.
Besides, what a great way to document their progress in drawing, writing and way of thinking.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam

this is so fabulous...i keep a running list of all the funny comments my trio of girls say along with some priceless "drawings." the annual list of comments comprise our christmas card each year. my recent foray into the blogging world is my own timecapsule of photos/comments. thanks for the inspiration...

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteradornedlife

This is pretty much the best idea ever- I'm in! Can't wait to see what my boys will come up with.

January 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

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