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The Keeper of Wild Words: Celebrating the Lost Words of Nature

Leave a comment on the bottom of this post for the chance to win a copy of The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith.

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.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

  • 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.

60 thoughts on “The Keeper of Wild Words: Celebrating the Lost Words of Nature Leave a comment

  1. This book sounds like a lot of fun. I am a lover of words and the dictionary is one of my all time favorite books. That they can actually remove words from the dictionary is just wrong on so many levels. Marsha Elrod

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  2. I did not know they removed words from a dictionary and what a wonderful way to celebrate and preserve them by inculding them in a book!

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  3. Well, how lovely to read your blog. However, living in the UK means I will not have the chance of a free copy of your book. but never mind.
    I married later in life, so didn’t have the gift of children. I do remember though my own childhood and the holidays I spent at my grandmother’s cottage in the Shropshire countryside. Living in the city made these holidays so magical and special. Every day was an adventure spent exploring nature’s beauty and just enjoying life. Julie

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  4. My goodness! Taking beautiful words from our dictionary? I’m going to share this beautiful post with my student writers- to inspire them to hold close their favorite words!! Thank you for the inspiration!!

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  5. Thank you for sharing how you decided to write this book…I am astounded to read that someone has decided certain nature words are no longer needed, “The editors no longer felt they had relevance for today’s children.” Thank you for this book!

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  6. What a wonderful concept. Wild words and poetry are the perfect blend. Sounds like a great book to share with my 11 grandkids.

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  7. Words and nature, two of my favorite things in the world. I love using and exploring both with children. What a great idea for a book. Thank you for saving words that should be part of every dictionary.

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  8. How can lavender and apricot not be relevant? That seems crazy to me! Now I can’t wait for the library to open so I can read this book. I’m already wondering if there isn’t an assignment in here for my high school students. Hmm….

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  9. No apricot? That’s the pits.
    Porcupine is leaving? That makes me feel prickly!
    Losing lavender? I cannot calm down!
    Thank you Ms. Smith for having the courage to be The Keeper of Wild Words.
    You are needed. This book is needed.
    Children need this book. I need this book.
    I cannot wait to read and reread it soon!

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  10. I had no idea that words such as these were being removed from the Junior dictionary! What a terrible shame. My mother taught me a love of language and words, And my two year old loves reading book after book and speaks nearly as well as many adults, already. I can’t wait to continually introduce new words to her and explain the world with them. We would love this book!

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  11. I am as surprised as you that these invaluable words have become regarded as unimportant, irrelevant, unnecessary… Thank you for finding and celebrating their value!

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  12. wow I came beause the illustrations are amazing and they made me feel like I want to paint this wild and freeness and these words children everywhere to experience the beauty of nature and feel what it’s like to wander and explore. I agree us children. To find out that I could win this book. WOW I would like to so I can use it as inpsiration in my work.

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  13. I feel like each year I hear about which new words have been added to the dictionary. I think the removal of words is similarly or maybe even more newsworthy! They need to be celebrated and remembered!

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  14. I love that this book is written from a grandparent’s perspective. As a grandmother, I love to share the outdoors with my grandson who would rather be outside than anywhere else! Looking forward to reading this lovely book with him!

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  15. I was so surprised when I heard about the removal of words in the dictionary! So thankful you wrote this book! What a great treasure for kiddos and their families!

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  16. I am saddened but not surprised that those words were removed from the dictionary. I often wonder, when my own students lack what I thought was common knowledge about the world, if our focus on technology is leaving other valuable knowledge behind. This book sounds lovely, and I would love to share it with my students!

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  17. This book is my literary soulmate! I have loved and been fascinated by words all of my life! I cannot wait to get my hands in this lovely!!!!

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  18. I am often cranky when I discover words that have been considered “slang” being added to dictionaries. Image my feelings now upon hearing that lavender and apricot, two of my favorite things, have been removed! I would love to be able to share this book with young wordsmiths!

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  19. I purchased a book called The Lost Words by MacFarlane and Morris. It is a beautiful book, and a large read-a-loud format. I used the words from that book as writing prompts with both children and adults. Each used the word in a poem. I would love to add this beautiful book to my collection!

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  20. The thought of a dictionary removing words disturbs my equilibrium. How did I not know this happens? Reading this post reminds me of the Obama’s recent reading of “The Word Collector.” At a time when nature is vital to our well-being, we should be learning more about it and the words we use to construct our understanding of nature. “The Keeper of Wild Words” sounds lovely and necessary. I’d love to win a copy and share the words.

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  21. Hard to wrap my head around a dictionary removing words like that. Even if porcupines were extinct, we would still need a name for them! I believe with all my hear that grandparents play an important role in kids lives. I know my daughters were blessed have theirs around growning up. All the best. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. What a wonderful book that shares being outside exploring with family and all that nature offers us. Experiences like sharing time outdoors with our family provide the heartfelt stories we share year after year. Lovely. Looks like a winner!

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  23. I rarely comment on free book giveaways since I’m in the stage of life where I’m trying to pare down. But as a grandma who loves words & sharing the natural world, I would love to win this book. How dare they take out porcupine!

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    • I am a lover of words, and it pains me that the dictionary considered such organic wordsmas no longer relevant. I’ve retired from teaching, but aim to instill in my nature loving grandboys all the passion I have for wonderful words filling such amazing books as this. Oh, please, random number gods, let me be chosen!

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