About a month ago I came across a subscription service that caught my eye. Letters from Afar sends a monthly letter from “Isabelle,” an explorer traveling around the globe. Here’s the description from their website:
Isabelle is traveling the globe and exploring the most spectacular destinations our world has to offer. At every stop, she writes you a letter to tell you all about it. From the souks of Morocco to exploring castles in Germany to riding elephants in Thailand, follow along on an unforgettable tale…. told through letters in the mail . . . Letters From Afar are an entertaining, nostalgic, and refreshingly different way to learn.
We got our first letters last week and they are absolutely beautiful! (I added on last month’s letter to our subscription, so we received two in one day.) Shawnee, the creator and artist behind these letters, is truly a gifted artist. The original handwritten and hand-painted letters are reproduced onto recycled paper and placed into brown, kraft-type envelopes. The envelopes are embellished on the back with ink stamps and the postage has the appearance of being vintage. Then two or three postage stamps from somewhere in the world are tucked inside with the letter – perfect for starting or adding to a stamp collection.
Here’s a peek at what we received this past week:
Each letter is filled on both the front and back with a combination of writing and illustrations. The writing, although conversational, feels a bit formal, and I noticed a couple spelling errors and other small “editing” issues. However, most real letters we receive aren’t grammatically perfect, and I was able to look past the few things that “bothered” me and enjoy the letters. Oh, and in case I haven’t mentioned yet . . . they’re gorgeous!
Past the beauty though, they’re full of interesting tidbits about whatever part of the world “Isabelle” is currently in. Descriptions of the terrain, information on the local wildlife, notes about the culture . . . just enough to pique interest in various aspects of the different locales, and give way to lots of further reading and research. This makes them enjoyable for anyone, but absolutely perfect for homeschooling families!
For instance, after reading the letter from Machu Picchu (and assuring my 4-year-old that his real-life friend Isabelle did not, in fact, move to South America), we looked up Peru in the atlas, had a (short) conversation about the Andes and the Amazon, and read a few paragraphs about alpacas. The letters could easily be a fun way to immerse your family in a different geographic/cultural study each month.
All-in-all, this is one subscription I’m willing to keep in our budget. It’s $6/month + actual postage, and I actually like that it doesn’t come with a lot of extra “stuff,” but gives us an entry towards discovering more on our own. Plus, a portion of all sales goes to Pencils of Promise, a fantastic non-profit creating schools and programs around the world with the goal of “education for all.”
Thanks to Shawnee’s generosity, one Moss and Ink reader will win a 3-month subscription to Letters from Afar. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.