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The Lost Words

Have you heard about the recent publishing phenomenon ‘The Lost Words’?

The authors wanted to create a beautiful book to revive once-common words, especially those dealing with nature, excised from the Oxford Junior Dictionary - and it’s really taken off. All over the UK, adults are raising funds to gift copies of the book to schools, including every Primary, Secondary and Special School in Scotland.

It’s a combination of glorious illustrations and poems that the authors liken to spells.

The book helps to open children’s eyes to the wonder of nature indigenous to our home islands, celebrating the wealth of life that calls them home, and sparking that natural curiosity to learn about the world we all live in.

In addition to this, the writing is really quite grown up. There is no dumbing down of language and plenty of challenging vocabulary is there. I’m especially happy about this.

I think that part of the reason why the world of dinosaurs is so attractive to children, is the almost mystical magic of their names. Even very young children will delight in getting their tongues around the complex pronunciation, and will revel in their own ability to know their stegosaurus from their diplodocus much more efficiently than their parents can manage.

Obviously, in communicating with children, we want to be understood, but I don’t think it’s always necessary to shy away from longer or less frequently used words. Better to create an environment with your children where they are enthusiastic about our excellent language, and feel comfortable enough to ask for enlightenment when they hear something unfamiliar.

Words are wonderful playthings as well as essential tools, and we should be stretching ourselves to widen our own vocabularies that we may dissuade future generations from losing even more words.

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