children should keep a diary

In the report ‘Children and Young people’s Diary Writing’, the National Literacy Trust found that pupils who keep a diary enjoy writing and see themselves as good writers. Their reports suggest that there is a link between keeping a diary and good writing skills. We are going to explore how keeping a diary could motivate your child to write and improve their attainment.

Diaries are a great way for children and young people to keep track of life, record memories and note down ideas, aspirations and emotions. Children also enjoy reading diary-style books, particularly Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Tom Gates series and Tracey Beaker.

How many kids keep diaries? 

Sadly, only 3 in 10 children keep a diary. However, this number went up from 20.3% in 2015 to 29.7% in 2022 (for children aged between 5 and 18), which is a promising trend. The National Literacy Trust charity is urging parents to encourage their children to take up diary writing to help them to become more fluent, confident writers.

Here are 5 ways a diary could boost attainment:

1. Children can choose what to write

At school, children have little choice when it comes to the topics that they write about. Diary writing provides children with the freedom to choose, making writing a much more pleasurable experience. Keeping a diary could encourage children to write more outside of school – they can be as creative as they like. The more they write, the more they should improve.

2. Writing becomes routine

Clare Argar, The Senior Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust says:

‘Writing a diary can help build children’s confidence in their own writing ability, and as confidence grows, so does their motivation to want to do more’. 

Children could write once a day or once a week, encourage them and it will soon become routine.

3. Improves handwriting

Technology has taken over, and sometimes it seems that handwriting is no longer important. However, it is still an essential skill and can receive a percentage of marks in various tests. Try to encourage your child to write their diary by hand (it will help with spelling and grammar too!)

4. Better communication skills

Diary writing requires children to think about the words that they are using to express themselves. It also encourages them to order their thoughts before putting pen to paper, making their writing more coherent.

5. Supports the National Curriculum

The conventions of diary writing are covered in depth as part of the English National Curriculum. Writing a diary at home will support the curriculum and provide the opportunity for children to practise and develop the skills that they have learnt in class.

Diaries can be different

Diaries can be used to record many different things. Every child has different interests and hobbies, so let them decide the sort of diary that they keep – there’s something for everyone. The goal is to get them to write regularly, whatever the subject matter.

How to start a diary for kids?

There are several ways you can motivate your child to start a diary. Teaching your children good habits from a young age can set them up for the future.

Start by communicating the benefits of them keeping a diary. Think about what motivates them personally. For example, do they talk about wanting to improve their handwriting to be more like their friends at school?

Lead by example and keep a diary yourself. You can explain why you keep a diary and what motivates you to do it. For example, you may keep a food diary to track the amount of protein you are consuming.

Finally, you could start a new tradition in the family by giving your child a diary notebook each birthday or Christmas. It could be a personal gift to look forward to each year and become a special memory of their childhood.

5 diary examples for children:

Study diary – for recording details on what they have learned at school and notes about any areas that they need to revise or ideas about school projects.
Personal diary – for recording details about their day and how they are feeling, or thoughts about upcoming events.
Holiday diary – for writing about the events of family holidays and what they enjoyed the most.
Nature diary – for recording details of birds, insects, plants or animals that they see on walks and outings.
Project diary – for keeping track of particular projects that they may be working on (at school or home) or something that they are interested in and want to learn more about.

For more ideas and inspiration, visit