Primary school pupils are being reacquainted with words connected with the natural world that are in danger of being lost to the language.
Every primary school in the Island has been presented with a copy of ‘The Lost Words', written by Robert MacFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris and published by Penguin.
The book reprises once-common words, now excised from many dictionaries, such as acorn, bramble, conker and dandelion.
Initiatives are springing up in parts of the British Isles to ensure schools have copies of the book.
Heather Hurt, a retired school special unit manager, and the Society for the Preservation of the Manx Countryside and Environment (SPMCE) have ensured every local primary school has ‘The Lost Words’ on its shelves from this term, supporting the Island’s UNESCO Biosphere status.
The Island’s schools are all valuable partners of UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man.
Charles Flynn, chairman of the SPMCE, said:
‘We are in an age when children are just as likely to be indoors working at a computer as outside exploring the countryside and may associate blackberry and apple with technology rather than nature.
‘We are pleased to sponsor Heather’s initiative to ensure our children maintain a linguistic connection with the natural world.
‘It’s particularly apt as the Island is the only entire nation to be a UNESCO Biosphere area, reflecting the close relationship between its people and nature.’
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for the Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘In the Isle of Man, our children are not far from nature and can readily connect with the tremendous biodiversity we boast here.
‘However, it is important that words familiar to past generations of children remain in use and I thank Heather and the SPMCE for their vision in ensuring each primary school has a copy of this delightful book.’
The Lost Word’s poems, or ‘spells’, have so far been adapted as a choral work by a children’s choir and made into a theatrical performance that tours schools.
There are plans for celebrity readers to whisper the words through trees at a forest in Derbyshire.