I had planned to include The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris in my book discussion series, but I decided to let the magic speak for itself and give it its own special post (I had also planned to check it out and then give it to my nephew, but no chance, I’m keeping it forever… I’ll get another for him).
The Lost Words is a rich tapestry of letter finding, poetry and beautiful artwork weaved into a spellbinding hardcover book. It is stunning, clever and captivating. A complete work of art from start to finish, you can see the care and love that has been put into every page by both author and illustrator alike.
It is the sort of book I would have poured over as a child as I’d try and copy the stunning illustrations (who am I kidding? I’m doing that now and I’m 32!). It’s also much larger than I realised, making the artwork all the more spectacular.
In 2014 the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed a number of nature words and replaced them with words reflective of our digital age. There is something sad about the fact that these words are being lost to the new generation. Many of them are words so intrinsic to my upbringing and influential in igniting my passion for the environment, that it almost seems impossible to me that they could become alien.
In an era when children spend more time inside than ever before (and are more likely to be able to name Pokémon than wildlife) we can’t afford to lose the language of nature. If we cannot name something then we become disconnected from it, when we become disconnected we lose our ability to care. And with all of the challenges our environment faces at the moment, we cannot afford for a new generation to become apathetic.
The Lost Words truly is a spell book, just the description on the back gives me goose bumps. I highly recommend it for children (and nature loving adults), and make sure you read it aloud (I’m particularly fond of the minute newt).
In addition, a proportion of the profits from the book go to Action for Conservation, a charity dedicated to encouraging young people to protect the natural world. The John Muir Trust also have some free resources and posters for further exploration.