Friday 17 November 2017

Beautiful, engaging and thoughtful - The Lost Words, from Penguin Books

Reading is such an important skill and is a pastime that Stephen and I both enjoy and something that we have also passed on and shared with Ethan from an early age. Now he is at school, he is learning more about letters and sounds than ever before, and his journey to learning to read has well and truly begun.

He has a vast collection of picture books that he loves and he has one more that has captured his imagination - not least because it has pictures of animals (which he loves) and letters.

The Lost Words is a very special and one-of-a -kind book full of illustrations and 'spell-poems' that aims to 're-wild' the language of children. Designed to be a read out loud book for parents and children to enjoy together, The Lost Words  is a substantial book and is really rather beautiful to look at. Ethan was surprised when he first saw it and it was different to what either of us may have been expecting.

The creators of The Lost Words want to bring back to readers young and old an experience of nature as astonishing, strange, beautiful, eerie and magical. The artwork inside is beautiful and has a very traditional, watercolour feel to it that reminds me of books I used to have when I was young, and the gardening and nature my Grandad used to collect that fascinated me as a child.

At first, I wasn't sure if Ethan would be interested as it is very different in size, style and tone to most of his other books. But the fact it was different really drew him in and he was keen to spend time looking at every page, carefully, in turn. He enjoyed spotting different animals but also the letters of the alphabet, which prompted him to share with me the sounds he has been learning at school.

It is a very different book altogether and I was intrigued as we turned each page. It is meant to be for slightly older children than Ethan, to help them with their reading, but I still think there is something worth sharing with younger kids too as the pictures are very detailed and relate to things they can see around them in nature.

The Lost Words came about following a 2016 research paper by Cambridge University conservationists which found that 8 to 11 year old school children were ‘substantially better’ at identifying common Pokemon characters than common species of British wildlife. This was not surprising when another 2016 survey showed that three-quarters of British children spend less time outdoors than prisoners do.

The creators writer, Rob Macfarlane, and artist, Jackie Morris, recognised that while children’s knowledge and experience of nature are being lost somewhat, we’re also witnessing a drastic decline of species and habitat in the UK. 53% of species in the UK are in decline, but 52% of the British public are unaware of it.

In steps The Lost Words.

Drawing together compelling literature with beautiful imagery and in an engaging layout too, The Lost Words really is a special kind of book and I love the message and meaning behind it.

Available from Penguin Books, The Lost Words (RRP £20) would make a thoughtful gift and a cherished addition to any family library.

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