Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best kids’ journals

Do your kids have a passion for writing? If they do, a kids’ journal is the ideal outlet for their creativity.

Journaling is a healthy exercise in self-expression for kids of all ages. The blank pages invite kids to share their thoughts, feelings, and reflections and offer plenty of room for their imaginations to run wild. Believe it or not, there’s also quite a bit of variety among journals.

The classic kids’ journal design features blank or ruled pages. These journals are open-ended and leave plenty of room for free writing and doodling. Other journals feature prompts that inspire kids to write about certain ideas or themes. There are also deluxe journal sets that include stationary, stickers, and other accessories.

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Journaling is a great way for kids to tap into storytelling skills. Many journals will include prompts to help, but if not, you can find plenty of prompts online.

Key considerations

Benefits

Journals provide a safe space for kids to express themselves privately. By nature, they’re a judgment-free zone. Kids can experiment with creativity and hone their craft as young, developing writers.

Many parents and child psychologists view journaling as a therapeutic activity for kids. According to experts, journaling may help kids deal with emotional hardship, perhaps from the loss of a grandparent or from their parents’ divorce. For that reason, a journal is often considered to be a constructive outlet to share emotions — rather than keeping them bottled up.

It’s easy for kids to get overstimulated by electronics, social media, and video games. Journaling, on the other hand, is an engaging screen-free activity. By disconnecting for a brief period, kids can use the journals to wind down and decompress.

Age appropriateness

While all journals are essentially blank, some are better for certain age groups than others.

Journals geared toward younger kids tend to have spaced-out lines to accommodate larger handwriting. They often feature fun designs or friendly characters from popular TV shows or movies.

Those designed for older students are more narrowly ruled to offer as much writing space per page as possible. These journals often have better-quality paper and bindings.

Writing instruments

Pencils are a popular choice for writing in kids’ journals. It’s easy to erase words if necessary, and the graphite won’t transfer through the paper. However, pencils can be messy and smear.

Pens typically are the preferred option for older kids, though it’s important to choose a pen whose ink works well with a journal’s pages. Felt-tip pens, for example, will bleed through thinner pages.

Younger kids often use fine-tip markers in their journals. Like felt-tip pens, they’re prone to bleeding through paper. They can also be somewhat messy. Markers aren’t designed for prolonged writing sessions, so using them for journaling may cause them to dry out sooner.

If kids are big fans of journaling, they’ll probably enjoy writing diary-inspired or epistolary works of literature, too.

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Features

Ruled vs. blank pages

The vast majority of kids’ journals have lines, though their spacing and design vary considerably. Most ruled journals feature plain lines, whereas others employ dotted or dashed lines.

Blank-page journals leave plenty of room for kids to write, draw, or sketch freely. Some kids personalize blank-page journals with headings, page numbers, or even creating their own lines.

Bindings

The most common binding styles for kids’ journals are perfect-, case- and coil-bound.

Perfect binding features flat, glued spines on softcover journals. This style of binding is most often seen in journals geared toward younger kids. However, the quality is hit or miss, and it’s not unusual for pages to fall out.

Case binding, seen in hardcover journals, features pages that are sewn together in sections and then concealed with the hardcover spine. Many journaling enthusiasts are partial to these types because they lay flat on a desk, making them easy to write inside.

Coil or spiral binding is mostly seen in softcover journals. In these, pages are perforated and then connected by plastic or metal spirals. Like case-bound journals, they lay flat on a desk. The pages also turn 360 degrees on the spirals, which means kids can fold back one side of the journal during writing.

Size

Smaller journals are easier to carry around, though writing space may be limited. This makes them less than ideal for younger kids, especially those with larger handwriting. Also, depending on how it’s bound, a smaller journal may be harder to hold.

The most popular option for kids’ journals is a midsize — about half of a standard sheet of paper. These are easy to hold and write in and remain small enough for easy portability.

Large journals are close to the size of a school notebook. The increased space allows for more uses.

Prompts

Some kids’ journals take a guided writing approach with prompts or inspirational messages.

These journals often are better for kids that are new to free writing and function as a stepping stone toward more personal, developed journal entries. Journals with prompts may focus on a central theme, such as self-esteem, storytelling, or essay practice.

Deluxe journal sets

Some journals come with stationary, stickers, pens, pencils, or customizable desk accessories. While these accessories are essentially bonus items, they tend to foster a constructive journaling environment. These sets also make great gifts.

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DID YOU KNOW?
The writing practice gained from keeping a journal especially benefits high school students. Not only will it help prepare them for essay-based tests, it will also boost their self-expression and storytelling skills in preparation for the Common Application essay.
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Kids’ journal prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable kids’ journals cost $10 or less. This bracket mostly includes basic ruled and blank journals. More often than not, they’re small or medium-sized.

Mid-range: These journals run between $10 and $20. Most are hardcover and have better-quality paper. There are also a few journals with prompts or guided writing exercises.

Expensive: The higher end of the price range for kids’ journals will be $20 to $30. Journals in this category may include themed prompts and generally have premium hard covers.

A great transition writing instrument for younger kids is an erasable pen.

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Tips

  • Invest in a backup. If your kids are avid writers and breeze through journals, it’s a good idea to always have a backup on hand. That way, they don’t need to halt their creativity while waiting to get a new one.
  • Keep a nature journal. If your kids are big into animals and nature, they can keep a nature journal and share their observations. They can also take pictures of their sightings and glue them inside the journal.
  • Consider a travel journal. Kids who love to travel often benefit from keeping travel journals. They can share their experiences about each leg of a trip, including fun activities they’ve done or new foods they’ve eaten.
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Some journals are designed with built-in bookmarks or placeholders. These are usually present in higher-quality hardcover journals.

FAQ

Q. How many pages do kids’ journals have?

A. It varies per journal. Thinner journals geared toward younger kids may have as few as 30 pages, whereas thicker journals can have as many as 250. When deciding on a journal’s page count, take into consideration how often your kids intend to write in them.

Q. Can’t kids just journal on their computer or tablet?

A. Sure, but writing in a journal is a more private, personal experience. On a computer, it’s also easy to get distracted by social media or video games.

Q. Can journaling help my kids in school?

A. Many parents and teachers agree that journaling is a great way to practice writing, spelling, or penmanship. Journaling also may help with social characteristics and skills such as self-expression, self-awareness, and conflict resolution.

 

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