J.O.Y. Journal | book review

J.O.Y. Journal

Author: Cathy Hanlin, Kayleigh Hanlin
Illustrator: Patricia McGahern
Series: n/a
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 194
Publisher: Balboa Press
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Children’s, Activity book, Journal

How many of us, when we were young, had no idea who we truly were? All of us, of course. It takes growing, learning, and lots of time to recognize ourselves—our values, beliefs, unique qualities, and talents. And as the introduction to J.O.Y. Journal states, “When we become aware of these gifts, we can easily find purpose in our lives.” Discovering your purpose when you’re young is not an easy task. J.O.Y. Journal aims to help young girls get to know themselves, and those around them, through various fun and exploratory activities.


Everywhere I go, it’s becoming more and more common that I find individuals that have written and self-published their own books. Which is crazy cool, in my opinion. The trouble with self-publishing, though, is publicity. There are so many amazing books out there that we don’t even know about, and J.O.Y. Journal is one of them. Though I don’t have a daughter, or a close family member under the age of twelve, I do know what it’s like to be a young girl. After exploring the wide array of activities in this journal, I can honestly say I wish I had a copy of this book when I was a kid.

J.O.Y. Journal begins with relatively easy activities: surface questions about yourself in My Biography; a reflection on your day in My Daily Review; traits that you think are cool about yourself in Crazy Cool (which also prompts you to create a collage on the next page—what young girl doesn’t enjoy collages?). These activities are fun and easy, and a great place to start getting to know yourself.

As you move through the journal, you’ll find activities that promote all sorts of things for young girls: self-love, reflection, forward thinking, and even music appreciation. After exploring the self for a while, the journal focuses on your relationships with the people around you via interviews, thank you letters, research, and even a communication experiment.

And after all of these amazing activities, there are a hundred pages dedicated to My Daily Review, encouraging kids to think about their day in advance (“Today, I am most excited for…”; “Thankful thoughts”; a to-do list) and through reflection. We’ve all come home from school and had our parents ask, “How was your day?” at the dinner table, but wouldn’t it be even more fun and beneficial to write these things out for yourself first, or even with your parents? I can see young kids excited to sit down with their parents and work on all these little activities. I love it.

Through writing, drawing, and collaging activities, J.O.Y. Journal promotes not only self-expression but also self-discovery at the most critical and developmental stages in a girl’s life. I guarantee if I’d had this journal as a kid, and a parent to sit down and work on it with, I’d be a lot more positive as an adult, with a lot higher self-esteem and self-understanding. I wish I had a kid to give this to, but I don’t… So I want to promote this journal in hopes that maybe you or someone you know has a child that could benefit from these types of activities. Self-worth is something we all need to have, and I think we should start emphasizing its importance early on.

In this digital, technologically driven world we live in, with social media and instant communication, books like J.O.Y. Journal could really have a positive impact on young girls. The kinds of messages and idea in this book are exactly what they need to hear. And not only is the book important, but it’s fun, too! I may be twenty-three years old, but I had to at least try the journal out, you know? And if I, a grown adult, can get value out of a journal like this, I guarantee a child can, too. This is absolutely a critical book for girls of the modern age.

Please think about looking into J.O.Y. Journal for the young people in your life. I work with Kayleigh and she’s a fantastic individual, so supporting her and her mom would really mean a lot to me. You can find all their information below. Check it out!

Amazon | Goodreads | Instagram | Website | Facebook

***I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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