Lost Words of Nature

When author Brooke Smith discovered several years ago that the Oxford Junior Dictionary was planning to remove over 100 words related to nature from its pages, she became angry, disillusioned and sad.

The dictionary editors didn’t think the words had relevance for children of today. They were words like apricot, lavender and porcupine. I can see why Smith got upset. Just today, I was planting my little backyard garden, and I put in some lavender plants because squash buts don’t like lavender. Another plant that squash bugs don’t like is marigolds, so I have several marigold flowers in my newly planted garden as well. I hope my squash vines flourish this year because they are well guarded by marigolds and lavender.

The point is that lavender is an important word for everyone to know. Not only is it a lovely shade of purple, but it plays a special role in helping to keep squash plants safe. It is a very relevant word!

I am glad that Smith got so upset about the dictionary’s plans to eliminate such words that she wrote a book celebrating some of the endangered words. She wanted those words recognized beyond the pages of the dictionary. She wanted to be sure children could experience the importance and vibrancy of those words as they explored the beauty of nature.

She called the book The Keeper of Wild Words. It is written from the point of view of a grandmother and her granddaughter, because grandparents play such an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. Through the book, Smith shows that nature is very relevant to children.

Others also have recognized the value of the book. It was recently chosen as one of the top 10 sustainability-themed children’s books of 2021 by the American Library Association. Some words that the dictionary was planning to eliminate have been recognized as sustainable, enduring words by none other than the ALA.

If you want to read a really cool book about nature and about words that celebrate nature, check out a copy of The Keeper of Wild Words from your local public library or buy a copy so you will have it to read any time. It’s one of those books you will want to have readily available.

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