Journal Prompts for Kids

Thanks to Wimpy Kid and friends, diary-style books have taken the middle-grade book market by storm, but this is one trend that has historic staying power. Our own Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior and My Life in Smiley series fit into a long epistolary tradition of characters telling their own stories in their own voices. For Dostoevsky, that meant never breaking up a run-on sentence. For middle-grade fiction, that means irreverence, relatability, and sometimes fart jokes. Two slightly different vibes, but both ring true for their respective audiences.

This summer, empower students to start telling their own stories with quick, engaging journal prompts. We jotted down a few ideas (66, to be exact—the average number of days it takes to form a habit, according to some studies) to get young writers on the right track:

  1. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? What’s something you’d want to do there?
  2. What’s the last dream you had? Write down everything you remember about it, using as much detail as you can.
  3. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
  4. We all miss things sometimes. Write down ten things that you miss right now. Then pick one and describe a happy memory you have associated with it.
  5. How do you normally get to school? Now how would you want to get to school if you could travel in serious style? Would you grow wings and fly? Take a sports car? Teleport?
  6. Pick three people to have dinner with: a relative, a historical figure, and a fictional character. What would you talk about? What would you have for dinner?
  7. Pick your favorite book out of your favorite book series. What’s so great about it? Describe your pick as if recommending it to a friend.
  8. Write about something that made you smile this week.
  9. Write about something that made you sad this week.
  10. Is your ethnicity an important part of your identity? Why or why not?
  11. List 10 things you like about your best friend. Find a way to compliment them on at least one of those things this week.
  12. List 10 things you like about yourself. Bookmark this page afterward so you can find it again when you need it.
  13. Would you rather… explore the oceans in a submarine or the skies in a hot-air balloon? Why?
  14. Choose a world out of a book, movie, TV show, or video game that you would want to live in. What would you life be like there?
  15. Should students wear uniforms? Why or why not?
  16. Think about a fictional character or celebrity that you look up to. What do you admire about them? What advice would you ask them to give you?
  17. Think about someone you know that you look up to. What do you admire about them? Write down a question that’s been on your mind that they could advise you on. If you are able and comfortable doing so, ask them that question this week.
  18. Do you have pets? Describe what you like about them. If you don’t have a pet, imagine you do. It can be any animal, real or made up!
  19. What kind of music do you like? Listen to your favorite song and write down 10 specific things that you like about it. It might be hard to describe, but try your best!
  20. Imagine you’re the school principal for the day. What are you going to change?
  21. Pick a favorite season and describe an activity you enjoy doing that time of year.
  22. Grab a book off your shelf that you’ve already finished and turn to page 50. Starting at the top, read until you reach a character’s name, then, in your journal, imagine you’re that character (even if they’re not your favorite!) and write about what their morning was like. What time did they wake up? How were they feeling? What did they have for breakfast?
  23. Create a poem out of words cut out of an old magazine. Be sure to ask permission first!
  24. Think about something you’re really good at. Now write a short guide explaining how to do that activity. Imagine the person reading your guide has never done it before!
  25. What’s your favorite thing to do on a nice day outside?
  26. What’s your favorite thing to do when it’s raining?
  27. Try to think of 10 jobs you’d want to have when you grow up.
  28. Pick one of the jobs you listed before and write about a typical day at work. What parts of the job do you like? What parts are challenging?
  29. If you could plan school lunches for a week, what would be on the menu?
  30. What are three important things that have happened to you this week? Write about one of them as if you were reporting the story in a newspaper.
  31. Imagine you and three friends are surviving the zombie apocalypse. What strengths would each of you bring to the group?
  32. Imagine you’re a tourist coming to your city or hometown for the first time. Where would you go sightseeing? Even if you think your town is boring, it might not be to a newcomer, so think about what makes it unique.
  33. Imagine you are an animal for a day. What animal would you be? How would you spend your day?
  34. Would you rather… eat only your least favorite food for a week or not get to eat your favorite food for a whole year?
  35. Pick a myth or fairytale and imagine it taking place in modern times. What’s different? What stays the same?
  36. What’s your favorite holiday? What special activities do you do to celebrate it?
  37. Imagine a brand new holiday with its own traditions and activities.
  38. Think about your parent(s) or guardian(s). What do you have in common with them? How are you different?
  39. If you could send a message to yourself five years ago, what would you say?
  40. Imagine yourself five years from now. What do you hope your life is like? What are some goals you hope to have made progress on?
  41. What’s something you’re afraid of? What’s scary about it?
  42. Describe a time when you felt brave.
  43. What’s a time you wish you could forget about?
  44. Where do you feel safe? Why?
  45. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Or both? Or neither? Describe your favorite time of day and why.
  46. Think of a fictional character you like who is a different gender than you. What do you like about them? What traits do you have in common?
  47. If you could fix one problem in your community, what would it be?
  48. If you could fix one problem in the world, what would it be?
  49. Would you rather… learn to cook a new meal or learn to bake a new dessert? Write about a memory you have helping in the kitchen.
  50. Think about the last time you were so focused on something it seemed like time flew by. What were you doing?
  51. What’s your favorite way to be creative?
  52. If you could have one superpower (just one!) what would it be and how would it change your life?
  53. What is your earliest memory?
  54. What’s something you’re looking forward to?
  55. Describe how you would redecorate your house if you could do so however you wanted.
  56. Pick a constellation and look up its shape online. Without reading the myth or legend that inspired it, imagine a new story about how that character or thing became famous.
  57. If you could bring one dinosaur back to life, which would it be?
  58. What are you thankful for? Make a list of 10 things.
  59. Make up an imaginary friend. What are they like? What do you do together?
  60. Pick a part of town that you don’t know very well. With a parent or guardian, visit that place and describe it.
  61. Write about something that’s hard for you to do.
  62. Write about something that confused you in the past month or so. What questions do you have about it? Then ask an adult you trust.
  63. Write a script for a play or TV show. Then act it out with all the voices.
  64. What’s one thing you can do to help the environment?
  65. If you could change your hair to any color or style, would you? Describe your new look in words and/or pictures.
  66. What makes you happy? Make a list, however long you’d like.

A little daily writing goes a long way. For a deep dive into the benefits of journaling, check out Imagination Soup, and remember, there’s no wrong way to keep a diary. Whether kids are following prompts or doing their own thing, what’s important is that they’re finding new ways to express themselves and process the world.



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