teachers' resources

Cost-free gifts for young writers (and old ones!)

So—you have a friend who likes to write. And you’d like to give them a gift befitting a writer but you’ve checked your money box and there’s only 25c rattling around in there.

pen and scrunched up paperHere are some low-cost or even cost-free gift ideas.

JAR O’ PROMPTS (for writer’s block)

  • Cut out pictures of funny/cranky/worried (or nice-looking) people or creatures from magazines or the newspaper. Or draw your own.
  • Write interesting words or scenarios on little slips of paper.
  • Write down weird things that you’ve seen or overheard at the shopping centre, on the bus or at soccer training.

Put all these things in a jar or small box. Next time your writer friend is a bit stuck, they can pull one item out of your jar and write about that to get the creative juices flowing again. (Ask your parents if you can have a pasta or jam jar when they’ve finished with it, or there might even be a few covered in cobwebs at the back of the shed. Or use an empty cocoa box and decorate with the comics page from the newspaper … )


All writers need to read LOTS of books to keep those booky ideas cooking. Write them a list of cool books you think they should definitely read. List the books and their authors, and a sentence or two about why you think they’d love each one. Roll it into a scroll and secure with a bit of string, ribbon or a rubber band. Your writer friend can take the list to the library and work their way through the books. Brilliant!


If your writer friend has an iPad or iPod, write them a list of cool apps, websites, e-books or comic-creators you think they would love and should try out. (Know of any free ones? Even better!)


Some writers love to enter writing competitions. If your friend is like this, they might like a list of current competitions they can enter. (You can start by checking out the Alphabet Soup ‘Comps for Kids‘ page right here on Soup Blog. You can thank us later!)


Create your own gift voucher—good for one (or three) sessions of listening to their story or poems read out—and giving an honest opinion if they’d like one. (If you have some suggestions about things that might need fixing, make sure you comment on some parts you did like, too. It’s hard to read your work out to someone.)


Create another gift voucher—promise to play one (or three) games of Scrabble or Boggle or any of their other favourite Word games even if you know they consistently win. You know they’ll love it!


As we said before, writers are readers … why not make a bookmark gift? You can use your own artistic skills to decorate a rectangular piece of card. Personalise it with their name or their favourite word or poem. Or try making these simple bookmarks below. (Ask your parents’ permission before checking out these other websites—and while you’re there asking permission, check about using a cutting blade because some of these involve cutting and you’ll need a parent to help if you are little.)

Owl bookmark (scroll down the page halfway for instructions in English)

Origami Bookmark

Woven Paper Bookmark

Fabric bookmark

Chicken Bookmark

Kimono Doll Bookmarks

Monster Bookmark using an old envelope


We might have mentioned that writers like to read. And readers don’t like their favourite books to go missing. On the State Library of WA website, you’ll find bookplates you can download for free with artwork by some fabulous Australian illustrators, like Shaun Tan, Rebecca Cool and more! You just download them, cut them out and your writer can glue them into the covers of their favourite books. Excellent!

Got any other low-cost gift ideas for writers? Let us know in the comments below!

© 2012 “Cost-free gift ideas for young writers” by Rebecca Newman and Alphabet Soup Magazine http://wp.me/pmzE0-To