PencilPALS: A Program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation
PencilPALS is a program designed to make reading and writing a first-person experience for children in elementary schools. Each child involved in this program has an opportunity to write and illustrate his/her own letters and stories. The children’s letters are mailed to adult volunteers of BookPALS, also a program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Through letter writing, the children share their thoughts about favorite books, characters, authors, illustrations, academics, hobbies, and other related interests.
Not only do children learn the value of reading and writing through this program, but also they learn the importance of their own stories. Children blossom when given a meaningful writing purpose. They may write letters, cards, notes, poems, and books. As a result, writing and spelling skills are greatly improved, and standardized test scores increase in these areas. Reading skills are also strengthened, as children are eager to read letters from their PencilPALS to each other and to the class.
PencilPALS teaches children to think about reading and writing in a meaningful way. The process of writing develops their imagination and enhances reading and communication skills; illustrating promotes creativity. Imagination, creativity, and communication are the skills that help children achieve. Sharing their letters and stories with a PencilPAL affords each child a sense of pride in his or her own writing.
The PencilPALS project is implemented into the class curriculum. Teachers designate a period of time for students to read and write PencilPALS letters, stories, poems, etc.
- Letters may be written and mailed on a schedule determined by the teacher (usually once or twice a month). Adult PencilPALS provide their own postage, and the school provides stamps for the students.
- Each child is paired with a PencilPAL, and each pair is given a questionnaire to complete. The questionnaires serve as writing prompts for the first exchange of letters.
- When possible, the program may begin with a literacy day kickoff and end with a special party at the school where PencilPALS and students meet in person for the first time.
- To sign up or receive more information, please contact the local BookPALS branch coordinator near you, from the Contact menu above.