Usually around September we get a few parents coming by looking for fountain pens for their kids. Often these are parents whose children are in Montessori or private schools, and a fountain pen is on the school supply list provided. Many of these schools teach cursive writing and want their students to have proper tools for this experience.
Of course, hand in hand with running a fountain pen shop is treasuring hand writing, and I know many of my former students loved writing with fountain pens, although part of it may have been the novelty.
I know September has come and gone, but I figure with the holiday season around the corner, a few ideas may help with the gift-giving.
Aside from the debate of whether or not cursive writing should be taught in schools, I think no one can argue with kids practising and building on their fine motor skills in writing, and fountain pens can be part of the fun of it.
Here are some fountain pens for kids:
1. For the kid that has never used a fountain pen, and just wants to have fun: the Platinum Preppy.
These are inexpensive pens that come in different colours and have large capacity cartridges. Because they’re so inexpensive, you don’t need to worry about the nib breaking or the barrel cracking, or if it’s left under the couch for two months before the vacuum finds it.
The pen is available in a rainbow of colours, with cartridges to match, so kids can pick their favourite colours, or one of each. This is great for kids to learn how to write with fountain pens, and they’re fun enough to make writing and drawing exciting.
2. For the kid that is ready to take care of a pen and use it regularly: the Lamy ABC.
Also, for the kid that is ready to take writing seriously.
This is one of my favourite pens, maybe because I am a former teacher. It’s available with a red or blue cap, and even comes with name label. The pen has a softer grip section than the Lamy Safari, but it still has some shape to help ensure proper grip. It comes with an “A” nib, which is between a fine and medium and slightly rounder, so good for kids to write with. Later on, you can swap these out for another nib size or a calligraphy nib as well.
Lamy cartridges for these guys are also quite large, so you don’t have to worry about fiddling around with cartridges as often. However, a big advantage is that this a pen for a kid to “grow into” – you can also get a converter and teach your kid to fill it with bottled ink when he or she is ready.
3. For the kid who may step on, drop, throw around or sit on their pen: the Kaweco Sport.
These Kaweco Sports are super. They’re on the smaller size (portable), so kid hands don’t have to wield a jumbo sword, and they fit nicely into pencil cases or tuck into pockets. The plastic on this is pretty hard to break, and the cap is a twist on, so you don’t have to worry about the cap popping off or the barrel cracking at the bottom of a backpack.
They take standard international cartridges, which are easy to find anywhere, and are available in a multitude of colours. The pen itself is available in a bunch of colours too – black, green, blue, burgundy, clear, and this new mint. You can get any nib from extra fine to double broad, or even italic nibs, but I would recommend a medium nib to get started.
4. For the creative, artsy kid that likes using bottled ink: the Pilot 78G (medium nib).
Most of the time, parents or adults who come in are pretty confident that they want to get a pen that takes cartridges. As someone who runs a pen store, I can say that a spilled bottle of ink is no fun. However, every once in a while, there is a young artist, a very responsible young artist, who would love a bottle of ink. The very notion of a fountain pen and a bottle of ink is too romantic to pass up (don’t we all know this…).
The Pilot 78G is a Japanese pen available in fine or medium, and I would recommend getting a medium nib because the fine is very fine. It comes with a converter, so you can use bottled ink. The 78G is a bit of a cult classic pen, and we get it straight from Japan. Available in black, teal, green, red. It also has a bit of a vintage flair.
On a side note, I didn’t think of this when I took the picture (which features a bottle of Rohrer & Klingner), but if you’re getting this pen and ink for a kid, I would probably recommend a bottle of J. Herbin ink to go with it. Not only are their bottles pretty and available in pretty colours, more importantly they have a wide base and are difficult to tip over.
For grandparents hoping to exchange letters with grandchildren, parents hoping their kids will develop master penmanship, or kids who just like to write and draw. Also, fun stocking stuffers!