Trees for Cities launched their Lost Words campaign on World Book Day, March 7th, with an event at Beam County Primary School in Barking & Dagenham, London. It marks the start of an ambitious programme to deliver copies of Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s wonderful book The Lost Words to every non-independent primary school in London (excepting four boroughs that already have copies from other campaigns).
Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, spoke to many of the Year 4 children and read them an excerpt from The Lost Words. He said: “This launch is the start of something very special in our schools. Not only does the book highlight the natural world, it will also broaden young people’s vocabulary and creativity with its excellent use of language and art.”
The launch also included a quiz for the Year 4 pupils, where they were asked to identify a number of birds from Morris’s illustrations, with the winning child receiving their own copy of the book.
Andrew Achilleos, local councillor and governor for Beam County, said: “I’ve got no doubt that the book and resources will complement the astounding work teachers at Beam and across the borough are already doing to teach our children about the environment. The event was a resounding success.”
Backed by Bulb (renewable energy company and partners of Trees for Cities) copies of the book will now be sent out to nearly 2,000 schools across London. The campaign will be staggered alphabetically, borough by borough, from Barking & Dagenham through to Westminster. Trees for Cities describe it as an exciting challenge to deliver so many hundreds of books across the capital. Connecting children to the natural world is an important part of their work, as exemplified by their Edible Playgrounds programme in schools, so running a campaign like this makes absolute sense.
David Elliott, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities, explained why the charity feels it is important for schools to be given a copy of the book: “The Lost Words has already inspired thousands of children and adults to rekindle a love of the natural world. At a time when children are spending less time outdoors, it makes perfect sense to bring this magical book to every school in the capital, so thousands more children can learn about all their natural surroundings have to offer”.
And as Robert Macfarlane has put it, The Lost Words has become much more than ‘just’ a book. It has got children, teachers and parents excited again about exploring the natural world, with classes and entire schools venturing out into woods, parks and gardens to discover more about their surroundings. The author said: “What is being given away with each copy is, really, hope and change. Jackie and I could not have foreseen it during the years we spent writing it, but The Lost Words has been an acorn from which a wildwood has grown. We feel very lucky to be part of a much broader movement underway in Britain, bringing everyday nature back into our everyday lives, especially those of our children.'