Filled with the enchanting ‘spells’ of Robert Macfarlane and the beautiful watercolour illustrations of Jackie Morris, The Lost Words gives new life to a selection of natural words which are rapidly fading from our vocabulary.
In 2007, the Oxford Junior Dictionary introduced a selection of new words such as ‘analogue’ and ‘broadband’, but removed up to 50 common words associated with the natural world such as ‘acorn’ and ‘bluebell’. By discarding these words, some argued that the Junior Dictionary would obstruct a vital means of understanding and connection with the natural world for many children.
Research by Natural England found that just 10% of children regularly play outside, with a further 40% of children never playing outdoors at all. There is a proven and shocking connection between the decline in time spent outdoors, and the decline in the health and well-being of children.
Could the omission of these nature words in the new Oxford Junior Dictionary further broaden the disconnection between children and the natural world? Macfarlane and Morris seemed to think so.
Their collaboration produced an exquisitely illustrated, hefty book of spells which was published in October last year. Each spell-poem restores the spirit and meaning of these lost words, and celebrates them in a fascinating and enthralling way. These words include conker, heather, kingfisher and otter.
A proportion of the profits will be donated to the charity: Action for Conservation. Their mission? To bring the magic of nature into young people's lives, inspiring a youth movement committed to conservation and to the earth.
The Lost Words is a beautiful and important book, because re-engagement and conservation of the environment will only be possible if we preserve the language which creates that all-important understanding and connection with the natural world.
Free resources and posters to accompany the book are available to download from: https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/initiatives/the-lost-words