Lesson 16: Journals

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 57–59


Each young woman will learn how to make her journal an interesting and valuable record of her life.


  1. 1.

    Bring paper and pencils for the class members.

  2. 2.

    Bring several journals for display.

  3. 3.

    Bring several examples of books that can be used for a journal: a three-ring binder, spiral notebook, bound journal, or diary. Also bring several kinds of pencils and pens.

  4. 4.

    Optional: Prepare handouts as suggested in the lesson.

  5. 5.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development


Display and activity

Show the journals on display. Then distribute paper and pencils, and have each young woman write some details about her baptism—when she was baptized, where and by whom, how she felt, and so forth. (Limit this activity to a few minutes.) Although many of the young women may not remember very much about their baptismal day, let those who do share a few of their thoughts with the class.

  • Would you like to be able to remember more about that important day?

Point out that throughout our lives we have feelings and experiences that can keep our testimonies strong and give us courage in difficult times. But in order to remember them, we need to record them. Otherwise, these feelings will fade in our memories, and we may eventually forget them completely. A journal is a place to record experiences, thoughts, feelings, and events as they occur in our lives.

We Have Been Counseled to Keep a Record of Our Lives

Scripture presentation

Explain that ancient and modern prophets have counseled us to keep journals. The prophet Enoch explained the importance of recording important events:

“And death hath come upon our fathers; nevertheless we know them. …

“For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language” (Moses 6:45–46).

Alma counseled his son Helaman that records enlarge the memory (see Alma 37:8).

Have the young women turn to and read 3 Nephi 23:6–13. Point out that the Savior was very concerned that the Nephites had not recorded some of the prophecies they had received. He expected the people to keep accurate and complete records.

Quotations and discussion

President Spencer W. Kimball gave this counsel: “Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal. It should be an enlightening one and should bring great blessings and happiness to the families. If there is anyone here who isn’t doing so, will you repent today and change—change your life?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 117; or Ensign, May 1979, p. 84).

  • Why do you think that President Kimball asked us to “repent today and change” if we are not keeping a journal?

After the young women have suggested their ideas, read and discuss the following quotation: “Those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals,” New Era, Dec. 1980, p. 27).

Handout or chalkboard discussion

  • What kinds of things might be included in your journal?

Discuss each young woman’s suggestions. Write them on the chalkboard, or distribute handouts that include suggestions like the following:

  1. 1.

    Important events, impressions, and personal feelings

  2. 2.

    Personal counsel, promises, and blessings received and the circumstances surrounding them

  3. 3.

    Deaths, births, marriages, baptisms, and endowments

  4. 4.

    Personal triumphs, failures, and struggles and how they are met

  5. 5.

    Current local, national, and world events that impress you or influence your life

  6. 6.

    Simple occurrences in daily life

We Can Choose How to Keep Our Journals

Teacher presentation

Explain that a journal is so personal that each of us can decide just how we are going to write our own. Suggestions made by other journal keepers may be valuable in helping us make our journal keeping a successful and rewarding experience.

Chalkboard discussion

Review the following suggestions by writing them on the chalkboard or having the young women write them on the handouts they have already received. Then demonstrate some of the ideas on the chalkboard and discuss why they may be helpful.

  1. 1.

    Date each entry; the day of the week or even the time of day may be important to note.

  2. 2.

    Number the pages.

  3. 3.

    Set aside a block of time either daily or weekly to write (perhaps a Sunday afternoon).

  4. 4.

    Keep the journal nearby or take extra loose pages on trips and to special church meetings.

  5. 5.

    Use first and last names when writing about individuals.

Teacher presentation

Explain that being creative will help our journals to reflect our own personalities and interests. One young woman explained her method of making her journal interesting:

“I named my journal Lucy. It’s like my best friend. It’s kind of hard to talk to a page, but now I talk to my best friend Lucy and tell her my feelings” (Jeree Worthen, quoted in Kathleen Lubeck, “A Journal Called Lucy,” New Era, Nov. 1981, p. 40).

Our Journals Can Be Interesting and Lasting


Clarissa Young, one of Brigham Young’s daughters, kept a very detailed journal during the years she lived in the Beehive House in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Beehive House was the name given to Brigham Young’s home. Clarissa not only wrote a detailed description of each room in the house, but included such things as the color of the walls, the furnishings used, and what things were set on the mantles from year to year. She even included an actual piece of the drapery fabric used in the “long hall,” the room where all formal entertaining was done. In 1954, when the Church began restoration of the one-hundred-year-old Beehive House, Clarissa’s journal was invaluable. Even the drapery sample she had kept was sent to a drapery company, and new drapes were woven to look exactly like the original ones.

Teacher presentation

Explain that the journals we keep can be made more interesting by adding such things as drawings, quotations, or poetry that will help tell our stories. In addition to a journal, many people also keep a scrapbook in which they preserve newspaper clippings, church bulletins, comic strips, dance programs, clothing samples, and other items that have meaning to them.

Story and discussion

Point out that to be valuable, a journal should also be lasting. An organ teacher gave a young girl some wise counsel the day she brought a new music book to her lesson. After commenting on its cost he explained, “Music is not only expensive, but its worth to you will grow as you study it and it becomes a part of you. If you will provide a protective cover or folder for your music, it will last a lifetime. But if you bring it every week to your lesson without one, your music will soon become ragged, worn, and worthless.”

  • How does this counsel apply to taking care of a journal?

Display and discussion

Show the young women the different books and notebooks you have brought. Also show pencils and pens. Discuss the merits and limitations of the books and the pencils and pens. Point out that a book for a journal need not be expensive, but it should be durable. Emphasize that pens and permanent ink make a better record than pencils. Ask the young women to consider ways to make their journals more durable.


Teacher presentation

Explain that careful planning now can make a journal a treasure for many generations. Regular, thoughtful attention can make it a book of tremendous worth. And when we keep a record of our lives, we can have the peaceful feeling that comes from obeying the Lord’s commandments.

Lesson Application

Encourage each young woman to select and begin using her own method of journal keeping. Ask her to strive to make her journal interesting and lasting.

Suggested Activities

  1. 1.

    As a class, hold an activity night in which the aspects of journal keeping discussed in this lesson could be demonstrated in greater detail.

  2. 2.

    Suggest that the young women share the handout material with members of their families.