A Genre Study of Letter with The Jolly Postman

This site opens to a preview/overview of the lesson and includes tabs that link to NCTE/IRA and state standards, resources and preparation, and the instructional plan with assessment. In this lesson, The Jolly Postman is used as an authentic example to discuss letter writing as a genre. Students explore the letter to the storybook characters delivered by the Jolly Postman. They learn how to categorize their own examples of mail. The Jolly Postman uses well-known storybook characters, form fairy tales and nursery rhymes, as recipients of letters. This children 2019s storybook is therefore ideal for using as a review of these genres of literature and as a means of helping children begin to explore rhyme and a variety of writing styles. Several pieces of literature appropriate for use with this lesson are suggested.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0501.1.1
Demonstrate knowledge of Standard English usage, mechanics, and spelling.
GLE 0501.3.2
Write in various modes and genres, including narration, literary response, personal expression, description, and imaginative.
GLE 0501.8.3
Understand the basic characteristics of the genres (e.g., narratives, prose, poetry, drama) studied.
GLE 0601.3.4
Refine strategies for editing and revising written work.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • read and discuss The Jolly Postman. 
  • explore characters from well-known stories. 
  • examine parts of a letter. 
  • research the different genres of mail. 
  • categorize letters from The Jolly Postman by looking at their attributes. 
  • demonstrate an understanding of parts of letters and letter genres by writing original letters.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Share The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Little Brown & Co, 2001) or another picture book that focuses on letters with your class. As a chapter-book read-aloud, share Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw.
  • As an alternative to letter writing, use the interactive Postcard Creator to create original postcards. After printing their text, students can illustrate the front of the cards using markers or other art supplies. 
  • Use the ReadWriteThink lesson plan Who's Got Mail? Using Literature to Promote Authentic Letter Writing to structure additional letter writing activities in your classroom.

Helpful Hints


  • The Jolly Postman and Other People's Letters by Janet Ahlberg and Allen Ahlberg (Little Brown 1986)
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Examples of Letters
  • Picture Books That Feature Letters