If you have a fifth grader, you know how fast they are changing and growing and learning as they speed toward adolescence. Amid this whirlwind of drama and activity, writing may seem like a painfully slow process.

But it’s also the age of Harriet the Spy and many other iconic kid sleuths who use writing to propel themselves into adventure. This is a perfect age to introduce them to the diary: a place where they can explore their feelings, complain about you, or even pursue a neighborhood mystery.

Try this: Introduce your child to the drama of writing by getting them a book where the protagonist keeps a diary that goes hand in hand with adventure: Harriet the Spy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, The Private Notebook of Katie Roberts, Age 11, and Amelia’s Notebook.

Then, as they become involved in the plot, suggest that they start their own secret diary. If you want to really emphasize the secrecy of it all, you could pair it with a gift of one of those diaries with a lock.

Still have any of your own childhood diaries or letters around? Read a page aloud to your children! It may inspire them to see the value of writing in a whole new light: suddenly they can hear the voice of their own parent as a child.