Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Bella. Bella Wonders, “How do you get a penpal?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Bella!

In these modern days of instant text messages and emails, many kids might think it's strange to write a letter by hand using pen and paper. If you give it a try, though, you might just discover a whole new method of communication that has its own unique benefits!

For hundreds of years, letter writing has been a favorite pastime of many. In fact, much of what we know about certain people and historical events comes from detailed letters written long ago.

In the past, it could take a long time to write a letter by hand and then have it delivered by horse, ship, or train. After regular postal service was established, delivery of letters became quicker and more reliable.

Many decades ago, teachers began to encourage their students to find “pen pals" around the country or even around the world. Through the regular exchange of handwritten letters, students could practice their writing skills while getting to know more about other people, countries, and cultures.

Sometimes students would seek out pen pals who share similar interests or have the same hobbies. Others seek students from particular countries or cultures that they're interested in. For example, foreign language students might seek out pen pals from France if they're currently taking French classes.

If you move far away to a new school, you might also decide to stay in touch with friends at your old school by becoming pen pals with them. Pen pal relationships might last only a few weeks, but often they can last for years and years.

Sometimes pen pals in different countries decide to meet. There have been many pen pals who have taken vacations to foreign countries to finally meet a pen pal who they've been writing to for many years.

Having a pen pal has many benefits. Pen pals can become good friends. They can help you learn about different places and cultures. Writing regularly also helps you to practice your writing skills. If you have a pen pal from another country, you can even practice reading and writing a foreign language.

Today, pen pals are still popular, although the Internet has changed how many people communicate with their pen pals. Instead of writing letters by hand and mailing them, many pen pals communicate via email.

Instead of waiting for days or weeks for a response, you might only have to wait minutes — or even seconds — to hear back from your pen pal! Some people call pen pals who communicate via email key pals, since they use a keyboard instead of a pen!

In addition to quicker response times, communicating via email can also be cheaper, since you save the cost of postage. Many people still prefer to send handwritten letters to their pen pals, though.

Handwritten letters have a personal touch to them that can't be duplicated via email. Just knowing that someone took the time to sit down and write a letter by hand makes many people feel special.

In addition, sending letters via mail also allows you to include small objects, such as newspaper articles, postcards, and stickers. These little extras can make opening an envelope that much more fun!

It's also nice to save handwritten letters and re-read them months or years down the road. Re-reading saved emails just doesn't have the same feeling…if you can even find them in your email inbox any longer!

Wonder What's Next?

You’ll want to tune up your vocal cords before enjoying tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day!