Letters to Treasure

Nov 06, 2018 | Posted by Laura


As a fourth-grader who loved a great adventure, reading seemed to be the ticket to experience exciting mysteries, daring adventures, and opportunities to learn about countries that I knew I’d never see in real life. A book could transport me to the edge of a river in a remote village in Iceland, make me a princess trying to save her people, or beam me over to a tropical island in the Pacific.

It’s not that I didn’t have any real adventures of my own. Growing up on a farm in Indiana provided plenty of excitement. We watched in awe as new calves entered the world, built forts in the haymow, drove tractors, and survived a power outage during a blizzard by snuggling near the Jotul, our beloved wood stove.

But a book was different. There was something magical about reading a well-written book filled with vivid images, colorful characters, and truths to contemplate. Reading became a passion and fulfilling pastime.

I’m not sure where the idea came from, likely my mother, but I decided I wanted to write a letter to my favorite authors. You see, by the end of my favorite books, the characters were good friends, and I figured that anyone who could create those characters must be a remarkable person. I wanted to meet them.

Preparing me well, my mother, who was a published author many times over, cautioned me that I might not get a response. “They get thousands of letters and can’t possibly reply to all of them.” But she encouraged me to try, feeling confident that at least one would respond, and the endeavor would be useful in other ways.

Of course, there was no Internet in those days, so my letters were hand-written. I wish I had a copy of them, as I’m sure they’d make me laugh.

Much to my surprise, the responses began to arrive. Beverly Cleary, beloved author of too many books to mention, sent a typed page about herself and wrote “Thank you for your card.” After recently reading the statistics of how many letters she receives each year, I feel honored for the handwritten message.














Then there was Molly Cone, author of the Mishmash stories, who sent a personally written memo and a gift of a bookmark with a note to me. You’ll see in the photo that it was 1973. You can do the math.














Apparently a little short on my history knowledge, I wrote Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her foundation graciously sent me a few pages of information about Laura’s life and three printed photographs. I was ecstatic.

One of my favorite series at the time was The Littles. In fact, those were the books that finally made reading “click” with my youngest son. John Peterson hand wrote a personal note and included a picture that I must’ve asked for.














Continuing the tradition with my own children, we wrote a few of their favorites. Have you read Holes? After listening to the audiobook during a family trip, my kids wrote the author, Louis Sachar. He responded with a letter in an envelope with the return address of "Camp Greenlake."

Everyone loves mail, but when it’s a letter from a favorite author that you wrote to, it becomes a life-long memory. Do authors still respond to letters today? I’m pretty sure they do. So challenge your children and students to write to their favorite authors and make a scrapbook. It’s an exciting family activity but would also make a great classroom treasure—and of course, it’s a perfect opportunity to practice those writing skills.



Laura discovered IEW while homeschooling her three children and now enjoys helping other families transform their students' abilities by introducing them to IEW. She serves as an exhibitor at homeschool conventions, as the Marketing Manager of the homeschool division, and as a Hybrid School Consultant. Laura and her husband, Gary, live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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