How to Find Penpals (Pen Pals)

My sister phoned, asking me how to find penpals for her 9-year-old daughter. This wasn’t completely out of the blue. I still have a box full of penpal letters I received all the years I wrote letters to people around the planet. I’ve got coins from other countries. I’ve got postcards too. But, I haven’t really looked at any of it for years.

I stuck with it for several years. I even met the man I ended up married to through penpal writing. That’s a long story. Now I’m looking for the next generation to start up with letter writing, finding friends by mail.

When I wrote my first penpal letter it was going to someone working in a factory where they canned pineapples. My Mother had picked out the address from the back of a can we bought at the grocery store. “Do you want to write to someone in Hawaii?”

So we sent a letter to that address. I got a reply back. I wrote to “Sushi” for years, though we never met. We wrote as we grew up, we wrote as she got married and had children. I didn’t get married until much later. At some point we stopped writing. With only one of us married and having children we just had less in common to write about.

The next time I wrote to someone it was from a penpal zine. This was before the Internet. The penpal zine was pretty cool really. I don’t know who started it (and there was actually a few of them by different people). It was created as a booklet, photocopied and stapled together. Inside were listings from people all over the world who were looking for penpals. Some of them wanted to write to people from specific countries. Most of them seemed to be from the US or Australia. Each person wrote a bit about themselves, who they wanted to write to and gave their mailing address and age.

Find penpals for young people

Find penpals of all ages

Safety Tips for Penpal Exchanges

  • Never go anywhere to meet a penpal (for the first few times) without an adult.
  • If a penpal writes something rude, or anything a kid shouldn’t be sending – tell your parents, a teacher, or another adult who can help you.
  • Don’t accept or send photos your parents wouldn’t approve of.
  • No one should be asking for your email password or your phone number. Don’t give it out.

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