Lost Words – words which bring to life our natural world, but which are disappearing from children’s dictionaries, and from their awareness – need to be saved.

This is what the book The Lost Words sets out to do. Writer Robert Macfarlane has chosen words, such as otter, kingfisher, magpie and willow, and produced a beautiful “book of spells” that brings them to life with stunning artwork by Jackie Morris.

A crowdfunding campaign is starting on Monday (18th June) to get this book into every primary and special school in Nottinghamshire. This is the ideal way to give access to this book to all, including children who otherwise would never see it. There have been successful campaigns around the country, and Nottinghamshire children should not miss out. Indeed, Robert Macfarlane grew up in Halam, near Southwell, and went to school in Nottingham. Having this book in a school can inspire teachers and children in many ways. As Macfarlane says, a basic literacy of the living world is important; “we find it hard to love what we cannot name”, so remembering these words becomes part of valuing and saving the natural environment.

The artwork in the book is a case in itself for having a copy in every school, as a beautiful object to inspire children and give them a sense of awe and wonder of the beautiful wildlife that surrounds us. But the text is equally inspiring, with acrostic spell-poems that are made to be read aloud. The magpie page:

Magpie Manifesto/
Argue Every Toss! /
Gossip, Bicker, Yak and Snicker All Day Long!

The spirit and nature of the magpie are described, and the sound of the words portray the noise that these birds make. The book is full of moments like this.

It is a book that both adults and children will enjoy, ideal for adults to read with youngsters, whether at home or in school as a class activity. There is also an “Explorer’s Guide to the Lost Words”, created by Eva John, which provides a host of activities for teachers, librarians and other educators to use, tying in with the National Curriculum. We would like to provide a copy of this for each school to accompany the book and have kindly been given permission by the John Muir Trust to print these.

The Crowdfunder page will go live on Monday 18th June, and last until 16th July, and we need to raise £5000 to achieve the target. If the initial target is not reached, the funding will not happen. A stretch total of £7000 will see the book going into secondary schools as well. As a former school librarian in Nottingham, I know how much I would have loved to have this beautiful book on my shelves for pupils to use. It is one of those “picture books” that appeals to all age groups, not just younger children, and books like this can speak to those pupils who are reluctant to read, but find their way into literature in a different way, maybe through the visual impact of a book like The Lost Words.

Nottingham City of Literature is spearheading the campaign, and we have the support of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Notts County Football in the Community Trust. Five Leaves Bookshop, recent winner of British Book Awards 2018 “Independent Bookshop of the Year”, is offering help with storing and distributing the books, should the campaign succeed.

So, do please look at the website www.lostwordsfornotts.co.uk, and consider contributing to this campaign: it would be amazing if we could reach every child in the whole county.




Instagram: @thelostwordsfornotts


www.crowdfunder.co.uk/lost-words-for-nottinghamshire – from Monday 18th June