A Nostalgic Postal Revival
Remember the good old days when you’d receive a handwritten letter in the mail? As an avid pen-pal right up to today, it’s no surprise that author, writer and Expat Living contributor Dee Khanduja has circled back to her roots and launched The Butterfly Letters, where she tells stories for kids through good old-fashioned letters!
We hark back to the nostalgic days of letter writing with Dee.
So Dee, why letters?
Letters for me are such a beautiful and elegant way to say how you feel, or to update someone, while leaving them with a keepsake. As a kid, I loved receiving letters from pen-pals around the world. I would diligently write back and have kept up the practice of writing to people to this day.
So you still handwrite letters for people?
Absolutely! I have a drawer full of gorgeous stationery and notecards and will always opt to handwrite over email or text catch-ups. I’ve ritualised the art of letter-writing. I create a peaceful moment, light a candle, and really tune into the words flowing from my pen. It helps me disengage from the juggle and struggle of being a working mum and focus on whoever I’m writing to.
What sparked your idea for The Butterfly Letters?
I’ve been a prolific writer since I was a child, and even now I journal a lot and express myself through the written word. Over the years, I’ve explored different genres of writing, ranging from brand copy to poetry, to co-authoring two self-help books, copywriting for various magazines, and writing fantasy fiction.
All my writing experiences came together one day as I lay in bed, writing a letter to a friend. I started wondering if my own kids would ever have pen-pals and how cool it would be for them to receive physical mail the way I used to.
This sparked the idea to tell stories for kids through letters – actually for both kids and an adult audience.
How do you tell these stories for kids through letters?
I simply use a letter as the medium to tell a story that unfolds letter by letter throughout the year. So it’s a ‘slow’ pace of consuming stories, with pause, reflect and ritual built into the process; readers must wait for their next letter to hear the next story.
This slow pace of consuming content really appealed, especially as I myself have been feeling the need to slow down and cut out the ‘noisy chatter’ online.
You launched with your Gritty Girl letter collection; what’s it about?
The Gritty Girl collection showcases trailblazing real women who have broken taboos, fought for what they believed in, or pushed humanity forward in some way. I wanted to showcase incredible women throughout time, so our children are inspired and can see what is possible.
These letters are great for 6-to-15-year-old kids and are written in the voice of a fictional character called Uma-Moon. Uma-Moon takes the readers on an adventure as she discovers each Gritty Girl, letter by letter.
What were some of the challenges with writing these letters?
Gritty Girl was a challenging theme as we had to pick just 24 women to feature in the collection (we mail two letters monthly for one year). Many of the featured women have dark stories or harsh realities that are difficult to raise with a younger audience.
I had to find a way to gently introduce these female role-models to kids, without overwhelming them with sordid details. There had to be a balance between enough storytelling to raise curiosity, while honouring our female icon’s real-life story. It was also challenging to condense the stories to fit an A4 letter front/back with artwork included.
What are you hoping readers take away from the letters?
I’m hoping they are left inspired and curious and can’t wait to receive the next letter.
Here’s how it works:
- Use discount code “ELLOVESLETTERS” to receive a 5% discount and a bonus letter.
- Subscribe to receive Gritty Girl letters on The Butterfly Letters website.
- Gritty Girl letters can be enjoyed by kids aged 6 to 15 years, as well as parents.
- Choose how many letters you want to gift/receive.
- Letters are posted twice a month (up to 24 letters in total).
- Surprises are included on the way, including postcards, bookmarks, charms, trinkets, recipes and so on.
- The Butterfly Letters provides learning materials for girls rescued from sex trafficking in India for every 6- and 12-month subscription (via www.B1G1.com)
Parents can download a free pdf resource: 151 critical thinking questions to develop gritty mindsets