Looking for a unique idea for a graduation gift? Well, I’ve got one for you!
The inspiration for my first novel, LETTERS FOR SCARLET, came from an assignment I used to do with my senior English classes.
Each year on the last day of school, I asked my students to write letters to themselves dated five years in the future.
They addressed themselves directly. Like…
(How they talked to themselves was up to them, and I promised not to look.)
I encouraged them to be honest and genuine, true to who they were.
They addressed, sealed, and stamped their own envelopes.
I saved the letters and sent them out five years later, when they’d receive a message from their past.
A message from themselves.
What did my students write in their letters? That was private and up to them.
I did, however, provide a few questions to spark their thoughts:
- Who are your friends now, and why did you chose them?
- What do you imagine you’ll be doing in five years?
- What do you think you will have accomplished already?
- What do you hope will be different in your life/the world?
- What do you hope will never change?
- What advice would you give your future self?
- Add song lyrics, movie titles, books, quotations; anything you don’t want to forget.
Some wrote poems or drew pictures to include. Some asked their friends to sign their letters.
The efforts were as individual as each student who participated, the rules up to whoever’s playing.
In LETTERS FOR SCARLET, Corie and Scarlet’s senior English teacher at Conejo High School keeps their letters for ten years rather than five, because the author (ME!) wanted to examine how the tragedy on grad night would continue to affect them as adults, after a decade.
In my second novel, LILY BY ANY OTHER NAME, Corie Harper has become an English teacher at CHS, and her seniors write their own 10-year letters. Lily Anderson writes hers at a pivotal moment, a time when she’s making decisions that affect not only her, but her entire family.
May is the beginning of graduation season for high school and even college.
If you know graduates of any age—I encourage you to have them write letters to themselves. It’s an original gift that no one else will offer, and more personal than most.
Either way, keep the letter and share it with them in five, ten or fifteen years. Whatever you decide. (The rules are up to you!)
I promise your graduates will be grateful for the opportunity to hear from their past selves.
My students always told me they were.
Watch the book trailer for Letters for Scarlet here.