I have an addiction. It’s not a bad thing, I just really, really love stationery – especially pens and paper.
Thankfully, my family knows this well and will join me in exploring any stationery store we pass. Together we browse the aisles and test each pretty pen on the paper pads provided. We flip open the sketchbooks and journals, feeling the thickness of the pages as they flap through our fingers.
As a kid on family holidays, I used to sneak the hotel pen and pad into my bag, feeling guilty about my thievery. My Dad kindly eased my conscience and informed me they were there for the taking as a form of free advertising. Consequently, hotel pens have become an obsession. They are usually good quality, light and simple. They write smoothly and are blob free.
If you happen to be at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington, be sure to scoop one of their quality pens and a pad of paper. My family and I spent a morning visiting every floor trying, unsuccessfully, to scoop up their complimentary stationery. Apparently, we weren’t the only fans of the Davenport pen. In the end, the front desk staff were more than happy to help us acquire four pen and paper sets before we checked out.
Recently I had a chat with teenagers about stationery and the value of a good pen. We talked about all of their favourites: Sharpie Ultra Fine, Uni-Ball Gels, and Sakura Micron. We reminisced about the Mr. Sketch Scented Markers, rainbow stacking crayons, and novelty erasers. We discussed the way our parents used a knife to carve space for our names on our Dixon 2HB school pencils.
The conversation then switched to all the things they drew as kids. Animals, family members, landscapes and fairy princesses were the most common. We remembered that distinctive crayon smell, the frustration of trying to colour within the lines and the joy of producing recognizable drawings.
We shared stories about drawing on kitchen walls and tabletops. I told them how, as a gabby teen, I would doodle all over the phone list near the landline phone, much to my mom’s frustration. They laughed when I said she unsuccessfully tried to stop it by threatening to fine me 25 cents for every doodle.
My husband always says the key to a great stir fry is a sharp knife – I think the same can be said for learning and stationery. When seniors start a writing program with a fresh, uncracked journal and a new pen, they feel inspired. Teens in journaling workshops immediately begin to doodle and draw in their new sketchbooks when given rainbow gel pens. A child’s creative energy emerges when given paints and paper to play with.
I believe stationery has an unspoken worth. It can be a learning tool, a conversation piece, or an inspiration. We might pick up a notebook and pen in our quiet times alone and make lists or notes about our day or write a more in-depth personal reflection. Our mindless doodles might transform into a meditative Zentangle.
On the other hand, when we are in a group, stationery can be a catalyst for connection. While occupied with our pens and paper, we feel comfortable telling tales, sharing experiences, asking questions, and exchanging ideas.
The value of simple stationery can be so much more than we realize. I invite you to join me and share in my harmless addiction. Spend time with pens and pencils that feel good in your hand, flip through journals and sketchbooks, sample the brushes and delight in the vibrancy of fresh paint. It can be one of life’s simple pleasures.
You can put your love of stationery into practice during one of CBAL’s adult or youth writing programs or you can foster a stationery connection with your child at many of our family literacy programs. For more information about the programs available in your community, visit https://cbal.org/communities/
Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator – Creston
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy