Boys Writing For Their Own Good

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Children’s Author Supports National Literacy Trust’s Children’s Diary Campaign

Initially thrilled at news of the NLT project aiming to encourage children in their personal writing, as reported in an article on the BBC website ( ‘Author Jacqueline Wilson Backs Children’s Diary Campaign’) , my delight was diminished somewhat when I saw the following:

‘Girls are three times as likely as boys to keep a diary’ (Research carried out by the National Literacy Trust).

We already know that, in general, boys are more reluctant readers than girls so it should come as no surprise that they are also more reluctant writers.

Does it really matter? If boys are writing as demanded in school, why should writing a diary or journal make any difference?

I feel sure that I am not the only person making the connection between the recent heightened concern over young men’s mental health and personal writing as in journalling or diary-writing. Information on the subject is a little thin on the ground, which leads me to think that either there aren’t many men keeping this type of journal or that they are keeping rather quiet about it.

Back in 2015, the Vancouver-based writer Claire De Boer, who originally trained in the UK, wrote an informative article on the benefits of men using journals as a personal outlet for experiences and emotions. It makes for interesting reading, but for parents and teachers of boys, as well as bys and men themselves, it also has important implications. If, as would seem the case from Claire’s article, men can benefit greatly from this journalling or diary-writing, should we not be more proactive in encouraging our children, both boys and girls, to use this outlet for their own good?

Am I wrong in suspecting that maybe there are people who feel that keeping a journal isn’t very masculine? Bearing in mind that the mental health of our young men is of great importance, I for one would like to see men who do keep journals and who feel the benefits to their mental well-being, opening up and telling our young men and boys all about it.

Some (such as Michael Hyatt ) are happy to tell the world about what and how they are writing. His website offers templates for those who are interested in starting but need suggestions of structure. Hyatt’s journal templates are an interesting mix of recording what has happened, how he feels and also, similarly to the bullet journals that many are now using to bring order and creativity into their lives, his plans for the days to come. But his approach might not be to everyone’s taste. A quick glance at Pinterest will open your eyes to the variety of journals, diaries and notebooks that people use in their daily lives. Which surely prompts the question – what do we mean by a diary or a journal? 

Here are some ideas that it might be worth pointing out to potential journal-keepers or diary-writers of any age:

  • you can write what you like
  • you get to choose the notebook you like best
  • you can use pens or pencils of any colour
  • you can stick things in it if you want to
  • you can write about things that have happened 
  • you can write about what you plan or hope to do
  • you can write or draw about how you feel
  • you can make lists
  • you can draw plans or maps or designs
  • you can try out ideas or dreams
  • you don’t have to show it to anyone (unless you want to)

Let’s get our boys writing, whatever it takes. The benefits could last them a lifetime.

Deborah Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

 

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