recess radio program

05/05/05
Postcard Week
    by Ramona Caponegro

For many small children, receiving mail is a thrill. They eagerly admire the look of their own names on the front of the envelope or on the back of the postcard, exclaim over the picture or illustrations, and insist on reading or listening to the message several times. Frequently, the card is also preserved in a special place, perhaps the refrigerator door, the toy chest, or a keepsake box. Once these children grow up, however, the mail piles up, and even cards from family and friends just represent a briefly pleasant respite from the constant inflow of bills, catalogs, and junk mail. Thus, many adults quickly become immune to the charms of either sending or receiving mail, an ailment that perhaps National Postcard Week can help to cure.

Celebrated annually during the first week of May both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, National Postcard Week encourages people to send ready-made postcards or even to design their own. Postcards, at least as we know them today with a picture on the front and with room for both the address and a brief message on the back first appeared in 1907 ("Weather"). Postcard albums also emerged around the same time, so that children and adults alike could preserve their favorite postcards. Later, postcard chain letters, frequently for children, entered the scene, promising that the recipients of the initial postcard could receive hundreds of postcards from all over the country and the globe, as long as they sent out five postcards of their own first. While this sounds like a promising way to ignite children's enthusiasm for geography, the results were often disappointing with only an occasional postcard, if any, reaching the mailbox.

Yet, the latest trend for children's postcards, the email postcard, appears to have caught on. Often free of charge and instantly dispatched across cyberspace, email postcards are today filling up kids' inboxes. For example, "Surf the Net with Kids,"an Internet site for children and their parents, offers dozens of free email postcards, featuring Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Winnie the Pooh, not to mention postcards with animals, holidays themes, and inspirational messages. The website of Jan Brett, the renowned picture book author and illustrator, provides over 100 email postcards of her illustrations, and countless other websites do the same. So, whether you send an email postcard or a regular three-dimensional one, National Postcard Week may give you the opportunity to not only make a child's day but to also recapture your own, perhaps lost love of sending and receiving mail.

Sources:

"National Postcard Week-May 1st -7th 2000." 22 March 2005. http://www.postcard.co.uk/npw.htm
"Postcards." 2003. Jan Brett. 22 March 2005. http://www.janbrett.com/vcards/
"Surf the Net with Kids". 2005. Barbara J. Feldman. 22 March 2005. http://www.surfnetkids.com/postcards/
"Weather is beautiful, wish you were here." 5 May 1997. Cable News Network, Inc. 22 March 2005. http://www.cnn.com/TRAVEL/EVENTS/9705/05/postcard/

 

Copyright 2005 Ramona Caponegro

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Wednesday, 27-Apr-2005 11:54:46 EDT


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."