Sharing sketchbooks across the miles

We loved Livy L.’s adorably petite gift boxes for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. And now we are loving this brilliant, long-distance sketchbook project she shares with her niece and nephew! Get inspired as she tells us all about this super-sweet way she keeps in touch with the ones she loves.

Sketchbooks across the miles |

I started a shared sketchbook project with my niece and nephew as a fun, creative way to keep in contact after I moved to Kansas City. We started the books about a year ago and have traded back and forth a few times, usually via little surprise packages in the mail.

Sketchbooks across the miles |

When we started, the deal was that I would draw some pictures and ask them a few questions in their books and they could do the same for me. So far their questions and requests have been really awesome, sometimes off-the-wall cute, and other times just plain silly. I always laugh when I see the little surprises they’ve drawn for me and I know they do the same with mine. I can totally see and hear their personalities coming out through their sketchbooks.

Sketchbooks across the miles |

Lilly is nine years old and Ethan is seven and they are both pretty used to the idea of me being far away. They were born while I was still in high school, so just when they were starting to really get to know me they had to adjust to the rhythm of my college semester schedule. I studied about a thousand miles from home, so a quick weekend trip was rarely in the plans. After graduating and moving to KC, my times of long, predictable visits home to Pennsylvania became a thing of the past.

Sketchbooks across the miles |

Even in the absence of a consistent homecoming schedule, I didn’t want to miss out on experiencing Lilly and Ethan as they grew up and developed stronger personalities and ideas. These sketchbooks help bridge the gaps between visits.

Sketchbooks across the miles | thinkmakeshareblog.comQuotes by Ethan (top) and Lilly (bottom).

My hope is that the books will serve as snapshots of their thoughts, values, and ideas at this time in their lives, while also allowing me to be meaningfully engaged with them, even while I’m hundreds of miles away. Although I can’t give them as many hugs and high-fives as I wish I could, through these books I can still have little talks with them. Our conversations are captured in doodles, drawings, and notes.

Sketchbooks across the miles |

Another great bonus of the shared sketchbooks, besides all of their obvious adorableness factor, is the conversation they spark in person, too. During my last visit home, Ethan and I had a spontaneous color lesson when he mixed yellow and orange and learned that there is a color that lives somewhere between them. It’s not a mind-blowing concept to you or me, but I’m glad I could be a part of it. As for Lilly, she’s at an age where she’s interested in the technical steps it takes to draw simple things like ducks, for example. Being a part of those little “click” moments and small discoveries is something I’ve really missed, so it’s great that those things can still happen when I am there.

Sketchbooks across the miles |

The ultimate goal is that we fill up all these little books and then someday look back on the fun we had together. I get a huge chuckle when I read their notes and sketches now, and I hope that as they get a bit older they might get a little laugh out of them, too.

 Want to try this project out yourself? Literally ANY notebook or sketchbook with blank pages will do! Grab some Crayola goods and the kiddos you hold dearest and start creating!

Here are some sample prompts to get you started:

  • “Make a random scribble shape on the page…and then try to turn it into something!”
  • “Use your favorite color and fill a page with drawings of things that are that color!”
  • “Write one nice thing about your brother/sister and then tell them what it is!”
  • “Draw a garden of flowers.”


Share with us how you creatively stay in touch with your loved ones on Instagram @think.make.share!



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  1. 9.8.16 | Reply
    Paula wrote:

    Oh my gosh Livy! That is the best idea ever in the world! I too have nieces and nephews living far away and I miss them dearly. I may have to completely mimic this idea.