Do you know any 8-14s who would like to write the natural world, whether its bird or bee or nettle or tree? Or are you a teacher who wants to encourage their class into taking notice of wildlife?
We are looking for new submissions to the Guardian’s new nature series Young Country Diary, which launched in June. YCD is an offshoot of the Country Diary – the oldest newspaper column in the world – which runs every day and is written by our team of “diarists” all over the UK.
How your child can take part
First of all, we’re looking for children age 8 to 14, so we will need your permission, as parent or guardian. Then here’s what the child needs to do:
Step 1 – Go out one day to where there is some nature. It could be their local woods or beach, their nearest park, a farm, or it could simply be a garden.
Step 2 – Write an article telling us where they were and what happened. The article needs to be between 150 and 250 words. Photos are helpful (especially landscape rather than portrait) but they are not a condition of entry. (NB, there will not be a way to attach a photo on the form, but you can let us know if you have one.)
Step 3 – We ask that you fill in the form rather than the child, pasting their piece below and filling in all other details.
If they get stuck and don’t know what to write about, here are a few hints and tips to pass on to them:
Good nature writing starts with the senses – so what did you see and hear? What about smell and touch? Take notes when you’re out and about so you don’t forget
How would you describe what happened? Did it remind you of anything?
It’s great to look up some extra information about what you saw, and tell us about that too. For example, if you saw some blue tits feeding – what do they eat? Do they eat a lot? What are blue tits normally doing at this time of year?
You can think big, and describe the whole scene – the sky, the horizon, the landscape. Or you can think small, and tell us some details about the butterfly’s wings or the beetle’s markings.
What did your encounter with nature make you think about? How did it make you feel?
Submissions are open for just over two weeks – the deadline for entry is Wednesday 15 September. Anyone can enter their child who is aged between 8 and 14 and based in the UK. You the parent/guardian will be contacted if your child’s piece is selected for publication, and you will be paid on behalf of the child. The selected pieces will be published in September and October, and you will be informed of the precise dates.
For further inspiration, here are a few recent Country Diaries:
Rob Yarham on seeing ravens and red soldier beetles
Claire Stares on flying ant day
Charlie Elder on the UK’s biggest slug
Good luck, everyone!
Paul Fleckney, editor of Country Diary
We ask that the parent/guardian fills in the form below, rather than your child. Your responses are secure as the form is encrypted and only the Guardian has access to your contributions. One of our journalists will be in contact with you, as parent or guardian, before we publish, so please do leave contact details.