Two local charities are helping Pembrokeshire’s primary schools to connect their pupils with the natural world. The Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and the West Wales Children’s Book Group have worked together to provide a copy of The Lost Words, the book by Robert Macfarlane and local artist Jackie Morris, for each of the 57 primary schools in Pembrokeshire.
The Lost Words, was published in 2017 to great acclaim, topping bestseller lists and winning multiple awards including becoming joint winner in the Children’s Book category at the National Book Awards. It reflects the authors’ concerns that common nature words such as bluebell, conker, and kingfisher are slipping out of children’s vocabulary as their lives become more urban and their relationship with the natural world diminished. The Lost Words is a large format book, celebrating twenty iconic animals and plants through poetry and fantastic illustrations which have captivated children and adults alike.
Across the UK, public campaigns have been successful in raising funds to buy the book for schools. In Wales these have been coordinated through a social media campaign, #AcornIsToWood, of which the Pembrokeshire initiative has been a part.
Sam Hicks, founder of #AcornIsToWood and parent, said: “As someone who loves words and books I was delighted to discover The Lost Words. The story of how this wonderful book came about from a powerful wish to do something hopeful and put words back into the minds and vocabulary of children struck a chord with me. In January 2018, I started my campaign to try to help close the gap between nature and childhood by getting the book into every primary school in Wales. I hope it will provide an invitation for teachers, pupils, classes and the wider school community to spend more time thinking about and getting to know our wonderful wild world. Being amongst nature makes us pause, slows time and allows our minds to be quiet. It is the perfect antidote to our fast paced, instant gratification, always-on, daily life.”
To help teachers and parents to inspire children using the book, Eva John, Adviser for Basic Skills and Literacy at Pembrokeshire County Council and chairman of the West Wales Children’s Book Group, has produced additional materials, including The Lost Words Explorer’s Guide, copies of which have also been provided to Pembrokeshire’s schools.
Eva said, “we are delighted to contribute to #AcornIsToWood with the Friends. We feel a particularly close affinity with this beautiful book as Jackie Morris, the illustrator, lives near St Davids and her close observations of the local landscape have informed her glorious illustrations for Robert Macfarlane’s enchanting and celebratory nature ‘spells’”.
Ian Chambers, Trustee of the Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, said, “We are delighted to be making a positive contribution to local schools in this way. We hope the book will inspire children to engage with the nature within our wonderful National Park. We also hope that it will give a boost to our Annual Children’s Literary Competition which this year has nature in the Park as its theme”.
The Friends of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a charity with over 400 members whose stated aim is to help to protect, conserve and enhance the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The charity welcomes new members of all ages. The Friends run a comprehensive series of events including visits, walks and talks, carries out conservation work and contributes to consultations affecting the future of the park. Details of the Children’s Literary Competition can be found on the Friend’s website. (www.fpcnp.org.uk)
The West Wales Children’s Book Group is part of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, a charity which aims to bring children and books together (www.wwcbg.org.uk).
Details of other campaigns for #AcornIsToWood can be found through Facebook (search for #AcornIsToWood).