Here’s a book about paying attention. The authors noted that an edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary had removed about 40 words related to nature. Words like Fern, Kingfisher, Wren and Bluebell. This book —The Lost Words: A Spell Book — is a response, and what a response it is.
The Lost Words is one of the more beautiful books I have discovered in some time — it is oversized, requiring two hands to hold it, and it has gorgeous artwork and some amazing poems all connected, page by page, to the words that were decided to be taken out by the dictionary folks.
Each page here is a treasure, and a reminder that our words help us to understand our world. When we lose our words, we start to lose a sense of the spirit of nature. Writer Robert MacFarlane and Illustrator Jackie Morris seek to recover and rediscover those ideas, and give rise to seeing the world through fresh eyes, with poems (which they call spells) and pictures.
I’ll share two online resources connected to the book, which is sponsored in part by the John Muir Trust. First, there is a Lost Words Explorer Guide, which is loaded with learning activities, and then there is a more generalized guide to connecting nature to writing.
This book would be perfect for any elementary classroom and yet, has enough detail and passion to find a place in a middle school classroom, as well.