Several years ago, I learned that the Oxford Junior Dictionary had decided to remove over 100 natural words from its pages—common words, like apricot, lavender and porcupine. The editors no longer felt they had relevance for today’s children.
At first I was angry, then disillusioned and ultimately very sad. But the power of being a writer is that you can create a world you want to see. I decided to write a book where some of these lost wild words would be celebrated and recognized beyond the pages of the dictionary. To make sure they always stayed an integral part of our language and our children’s stories.
Nature has always been a crucial part of my life, and my daughter Mimi’s, too. We were fortunate enough to raise her on our property in Bend, Oregon that had many of these wild words naturally present. I wanted to write a book that would allow children everywhere to experience the beauty of nature and feel what it’s like to wander and explore.
I also wanted to write it from the point of view of a grandmother and her granddaughter. Why? Grandparents play such a special role in children’s lives. My dad was a touchstone for my daughter growing up. He gave her a nature backpack when she was very young, and the two of them would walk down our long cinder lane, exploring for hours. His patience with her was such a gift, and watching the two of them together was one of my favorite parts of her childhood.
It’s absurd to think that nature could ever be irrelevant to children. In fact, I’d argue that in the technology-filled world we now live in, nature plays a more important role than ever to provide a place to dream, rest and wonder. I hope parents, grandparents, libraries, and schools will all become Keepers of Wild Words by sharing this book—and most importantly, the words it celebrates.
“I decided to write a book where some of these lost wild words would be celebrated beyond the pages of the dictionary. To make sure they always stayed and integral part of our language and our children’s stories.” (Pull out quote)
Brooke Smith is a poet and children’s book author. She lives in Bend, Oregon, at the end of a long cinder lane. She writes daily from her studio, looking at the meadow and the natural world that inspires her. She loves writing for children, because they find beauty and wonder in small, ordinary things and allow her to do the same. You may find her on Instagram @brookesmith_author.
This giveaway is for a copy of The Keeper of Wild Words. Many thanks to Chronicle Books for donating a copy for one reader. For a chance to win this copy of The Keeper of Wild Words, please leave a comment about this post by Friday, May 22nd at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Stacey Shubitz will use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name she will announce at the bottom of this post, by Tueday, May 26th. You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter the giveaway. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so Stacey can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. NOTE: There may be a shipping delay due to shipping-related issues caused by the novel coronavirus. If you are the winner of the book, Stacey will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – SMITH. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. A new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.
Comments are now closed. Chris Cherney is the winner of this giveaway.