My grandfather had stacks of journals. Leather ones and plastic ones. Fancy and plain. He would even buy datebooks from years past because of a special quality he liked: a pebbled leather cover, a gold stamp of the year. He would show us in delight. Look! Hand stitched!
I inherited this gene. Back-to-school shopping at Staples finds me wringing my hands in delight over the fresh batch of composition books. Shall we get one with a cute puppy cover? Or a peace sign cover? How about college ruled? Oooh, graph paper inside! How about recycled? I want them all.
But what is it about a fresh journal that is so inspiring? I believe it is seeing those endless pages on which to express yourself, to invent, to dream. The potential of an empty notebook is unlimited.
In our home office I have been building a stack of journals for our daughter. So far, it includes:
1. A sketchbook – I buy the Up and Up Drawing Book from Target because it is a good deal and has decent-weight paper that can handle most mediums. I also keep an eye out for Strathmore when they go on sale at the craft stores. The deep green or brown cover and yellowish paper reminds me of my art school days.
2. A tracing pad – I pick up the Canson brand at Wal~Mart, which is a legitimate art brand, so the quality is just fine. This can be used for tracings of picture books, science diagrams, and more.
3. A composition journal – I love these. This year we have one from Lego Friends, because Olivia is an inventor.
4. A recycled, earthy notebook – This one is for writing down hopes and dreams. One was given to us during an after-school program about stress management for kids and parents. They encouraged both parent and child to share dreams and goals in the journal so this is a continuation of that idea.
5. I plan to add a graph-paper book as well – like a real, science-y college notebook
When I first placed the stack on her shelf, I asked her what she wanted to call it. Pile of notebooks? Brainstorm journals? Thinking books?
“Brainstorm journals,” she answered, promptly dropping one on her desk to get to work. I like it. The term gives her ownership over her ideas – makes them real.
I like the idea, also, of saving the journals to look through in the future. Rather than pawing through endless pieces of random paper, I think it will be fun for her to look back and see her ideas as they evolved.
She recently had a STEM-vention assignment for school. She was able to remember back to the inventions she had penciled into her books.
So then I got a little jealous, and just had to buy my very own green sketch pad from Michael’s. I plan to fill it with brainstorms.
Photo credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division: LC-USZ62-110332