The Lost Art of Letter Writing and How (and Why) to Encourage Kids to Do More Writing

For Mother’s Day, I requested a dessert called “Blarneys” that my grandma Agnes Sazama used to make. This tasty little yellow cake is wrapped in a buttercream frosting and then rolled in peanuts.

I recently re-discovered the recipe in a handwritten letter from my grandma. When I was in my 20s and living in New York City, I had asked her for the recipe. English wasn’t her first language and her note (which excluded punctuation) accompanying the recipe said, “Delishes Ha watch the calories I sure did enjoy tham until I found I had diabetes a person can use any white cake.”

I smiled when I read the note and it brought back memories of the hard-working farm wife, mother of seven children and someone who always made me feel safe.

When Groza Learning Center contacted Circling the News about one of their programs, a creative writing class, they asked: “Will the art of letter writing become a thing of the past? Will our children experience the joy of picking out a beautiful piece of stationary, taking the cap off that favorite pen, gliding it smoothly across the page, addressing the envelope, licking the stamp, dropping it in the mailbox, and patiently waiting for a response?”

Despite the ease and popularity of using videos and screens to communicate with friends and relatives these days, Groza argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the paradigm in a hopeful way. “Many of us have been forced to slow down and have found ourselves with a lot of extra time. The ability to write a proper letter is still essential, and will never go out of style.”

Groza lists the Benefits of Writing:

Improve communication skills

Enhances vocabulary and language skills


Builds concentration and focus


Critical Thinking



Taking pride in one’s creation

Imagination and Creativity

The learning center, located in the 881 Alma Real building, offers ideas to encourage children to start writing, such as having fun stationery, pens and stickers, writing to a family member or a resident at a local retirement home, finding a pen pal in a different state or country, sending a thank-you letter to local heroes such as firefighters and police officers, writing to a local newspaper or magazine, and creating a time line.

Now is the perfect time for any young students in your household to sharpen their writing skills because the annual Friends of the Palisades Library summer writing contest will get underway in June with the theme “Surprise Us!”

Groza offers a creative writing program. Visit:  or call (310) 454-3731.

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3 Responses to The Lost Art of Letter Writing and How (and Why) to Encourage Kids to Do More Writing

  1. Thomas M Meade says:

    The satisfaction bestowed upon the recipient is
    hard to exaggerate. If the writer intends to create
    an everlasting compliment, nothing compares to
    receiving such a personal package, nor with the
    knowledge that one or two days hence your regard
    will register to the fullest extent, as evidenced by
    the personal attention and delayed gratification.
    Hint: should you be so lucky, snap a pic, return it.

  2. Nancy Brown says:

    Wow Martha –
    What a treasure! I did not know that you had acquired the recipe! How hard it must of been for Grandma to write the recipe because she did so much from memory.

    Those were the best bars – I have tried to copy them by using a cake mix, canned frosting and peanuts – does not compare to Grandmas!

  3. Sue says:


    I also asked mom today and most likely Grandma Sazama didn’t go to high school. Eighth grade was as high as she probably went-but she was fluent in Bohemian and English.

    I know Grandma Larson and her sister Lena got to make a choice. Lena got a new piano and lessons, so Grandma Cora went to high school. We were lucky to have such plucky grandmas who strived to make the best of their lives, setting an example of hard work, and just how to keep going even in the worst of times. Love you.


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