18th Nov, 2018

Acorns, conkers and kingfishers... Bid to reclaim forgotten youth dictionary words for schoolchildren

Felix Nobes 14th Sep, 2018 Updated: 14th Sep, 2018

A CAMPAIGN is helping to bring acorns, conkers and kingfishers back to the imaginations of children across Coventry and Warwickshire.

It aims to prevent these forgotten words – no longer in the Oxford Junior Dictionary – falling out of use.

The Coventry University library team has delivered a copy of children’s book, The Lost Words, to every primary school in Coventry and Warwickshire to help reintroduce a series of once common words including otter, acorn, conker, kingfisher, bluebell and adder.

The book, featuring a collection of poems, was created by nature writer, Robert Macfarlane, and illustrator, Jackie Morris.

Since its release, crowdfunding campaigns have been set up to ensure a copy is available at every primary school in the country.

Coventry University partnered with bookshop, Kenilworth Books, to send 278 copies to the regions schools in time for the start of the new term.

Each school has also been sent a resource pack with ideas and information to help teachers and librarians run a series of outdoor activities and workshops.

This is the first time a university has been involved in the Lost Words scheme as part of the Coventry’s commitment to providing and supporting education in the city.

The project will continue through the year as a team of creative writing students run nature-led workshops at a selection of schools this autumn.

They want to encourage a love of reading, and for children to explore the outdoors and get to know their natural surroundings.

Olivia Llewellyn, a librarian at Coventry University’s Lanchester Library, said: “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this but for us it is so important to encourage children to read and explore their own imaginations as well as their physical surroundings.

“Fostering a lifelong love of stories and of language is so beneficial for all levels of education and as a library we obviously want to help schools and encourage all children to read.”

Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books said: “The Lost Words is an extraordinary book; a combination of nature poetry and stunning illustration – and it has become clear that this is one of the most important books of our times.

“It is vital that we teach children to cherish these words and that we all, both adults and children, increase our knowledge of the natural world. If we lose the language, we stand to lose the real thing too. This is particularly true in urban areas where it feels as if the natural world is not part of everyday life.”

Author and academic Dr Robert Macfarlane, said: “I’m really delighted to see a project led by Coventry University library.

“The joining up of high education to primary and secondary is something vital to the health of an education system, and is not done enough in this country.

“At a time when we are increasingly disconnected from nature in our towns and cities inspiring a new generation with a love of nature is visionary; for those children both now and later in life.”

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