Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Nonfiction Monday – A day in the life of a Postman

Posted on | April 26, 2010 | 8 Comments

Given the International Postcard Swap for Families we’re hosting at Playing by the book, for my contribution to this week’s Nonfiction Monday I’m reviewing A Day in the Life of a Postman by Carol Watson

This book takes the form of a photo diary starting at 5am with Basra the postman arriving at a large delivery office. Through photos and short sections of text the typical format of his day is shared with readers, from Basra sorting out his post at his delivery frame, to delivering it on his walk. The second half of the book includes a tutorial on how to make your own mailbox and a section on “How you can help the Post Office”, including tips like how to find the correct postcode for an address, or using elastic bands if you’re posting a lot of letters at the same time.

Whilst the photos are great – they look like they were taken in a real sorting office – the text is a little out of date, describing a postal service that doesn’t really exist any more here in the UK (for example talking about two deliveries a day). Then the tutorial looks fun but when M asked me what the mailbox was actually for I was flummoxed – the object to be made is not a postbox (ie a place for posting letters), and yet it’s not clear what else it is meant to be – the term mailbox isn’t used anywhere else in the text, and the only thing I could imagine it was meant to be – a box on a private home where the postman can leave mail – isn’t very common at all in the UK (letters and cards are posted through letterboxes on front doors).

All in all this book wasn’t a great success! In fact I think M learned more about the postal system from the fictional A Giant Hug. Perhaps if I could find a newer edition of this book (this one dates back to 1996) there wouldn’t be so many instances of me having to explain to M that things are not actually as they are described in the book. Perhaps another way of making this book more interesting and relevant would be if I could get hold of a similar book for the postal system in a different country so we could see in what respects some things are different and other aspects of the job are the same.

Having read this book M decided to set up her own post office. We wrapped up several parcels, weighed them, put stamps on them (real but recycled ones, stuck on with glue), and addressed the parcels to various teddies and dolls.

This little project was fun and just perfect for M as she is beginning to read and write.






A Day in the Life of a Postman: * (1 star)

So not a book that we raved about, but it did give us the excuse to listen to some fun post-related music:

  • The Postman Pat theme tune (we had to include it at some point didn’t we!)
  • Postman Blues by Dinah Washington
  • Another Postcard by Barenaked Ladies


  • And here are some more mail-related ideas for activities with and for your kids:

  • 2 ideas from SouleMama – a wrap to store writing paper and cards in (opens as a pdf file) and a satchel to keep precious letters (or postcards!) in.
  • Create your own personalised stamps (Smilers) at the Royal Mail. A similar service is available from many national postal services including Australia Post, Canada Post/Postes Canada, United States Postal Serviceand TNT Post (Netherlands).
  • Turn your kids’ artwork into postcards with this tutorial from Disney Family Fun

  • There is still time to sign up for the International Postcard Swap for Families – the deadline is this Friday, April 30th. We’ve 96 families signed up so far! To ensure that the swap remains international, there is currently a waiting list for families based in the US and England (but not other parts of the UK).


    This week’s Nonfiction Monday host is MsMac at Check it Out. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what’s included in today’s round up – and if you want more postcard fun, you might just be in time to sign up for MsMac’s own postcard project…

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    Comments

    8 Responses to “Nonfiction Monday – A day in the life of a Postman”

    1. Kristine
      April 26th, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

      I’m sorry the book wasn’t engaging but it sounds like the activity was. I can see my daughter getting into sending mail and parcels to all of her friends. She loves writing party invitations to her dolls but we’ve never gone to the step of ‘mailing’ them.

      Have you looked at “The Jolly Postman” or any of the similar ones. Each page consists of an envelope that holds a letter you can unfold and read. I loved them when I was little. There’s also Tolkien’s version which consists of envelopes holding copies of the actual letters and drawings his son received from Santa over several years. It’s really special.

      I haven’t yet made a decision about the postcard thing but I’m thinking about it. I think I’d enjoy it but am not sure my daughters are old enough. We do sometimes send letters to friends and family but I’m not sure my daughter would get the ‘meeting people from around the world’.

      Also how did your passing it forward thing go?

    2. Zoe
      April 26th, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

      Hi Kristine! Thanks for your lovely comment – especially nice as I’m buried under literally hundreds of addresses for this postcard swap and so it’s nice to think about books again! Come back tomorrow and see my 99 books about post :-) Yes, The jolly postman and Tolkein’s book are on the list (I love the former, but haven’t actually read the latter – must try to track it down).

      Do what you feel is right for you guys about the postcard thing – I won’t be offended if you don’t join in! Lots of families have joined in with kids younger than yours, and then there are also families who have signed up with kids in their 20s!

      Do you mean when I sent almost random bits of goodness on a couple of months back? I enjoyed doing it, especially for one person who I knew a bit through their blog so I could choose something personal and that I knew their family would like. One person never let me know if their gift arrived, so I don’t know what happened there!

    3. Janelle
      April 27th, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

      Not sure this is what your book is referring to, but we have a mailbox at the end of our driveway. This is where we put our letters to be picked up by the mailman (it has a little flag on the side you put up to indicate there is mail in the box). The mailman also puts our mail in the box as well.

    4. Zoe @ Playing by the book
      April 27th, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

      Hi Janelle,
      yeah I wondered if that was what was meant but this book is very definitely british – the photos are all british, the postal system discussed is british, the rest of the vocab is clearly british, so it just seemed odd to then talk about a mailbox without explaining what it was – what you describe is very uncommon here.

    5. Natalie
      April 27th, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

      I am curious if this book is “translated” from American edition, and editor missed some “cultural differences”. Anna plays mail delivery a lot too, but her parcels are definitely nowhere as neat :)

    6. Zoe @ Playing by the book
      April 28th, 2010 @ 6:41 am

      Yeah, Natalie, that’s the only thing I can imagine but then it is a case of terrible editing!!

    7. caroline @ learningparade
      May 5th, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

      Hi Zoe,
      Two deliveries a day? Lol, those were the days!!! This post was featured on Facebook by Ian at Tidy Books, just to let you know! Have you ever had the smilers stamps made up by Royal Mail? We were going to give it a try last Christmas but were so busy!!!

    8. Zoe
      May 6th, 2010 @ 8:30 am

      Hi Caroline,
      Yeah, I know what you mean. We’re lucky if we get our one delivery before 2pm now. Yes I have tried smilers and they were fine, but what I’d recommend instead is using MOO (http://uk.moo.com/en/) to created a sticker book (you can have lots of different images then, not just a single one), and then order some nice stamps separately from Royal mail online (http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/shop;jsessionid=FTT2Y4NUK2TZ0FB2IGVUQ3QUHRA0UQ2K?catId=9300091&pageId=shp_category&category=cat35760022&gear=shop) – you’ll have to pay a small amount for postage but it does mean you’ll be able to choose some nice stamps. I prefer this method to smilers because it’s so much more flexible, and in the end I don’t think it’s any more expensive. I’m now waiting for October – there’s going to be a special issue of stamps all about illustration in children’s books :-)

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