Feature articles about Oxford University Press around the world
Give the Gift of Words
This season, we are encouraging people to give the gift of words and help us to inspire people through language.
Language is a powerful force for good. It can create opportunities in education, and education can change lives. Our recent Words of an Unprecedented Year report highlighted just how much people use language to navigate the world around them, while our Oxford Language Report: Bridging the Word Gap in Transition identified a growing shortfall in young people’s vocabulary, especially at the point of transition from primary to secondary school.
With this in mind, we think that one of the most important gifts you can give this season, is the gift of words. From a line from a book, story, poem, to even just a single word, we are asking people to share which words would they give as a gift this year.
Here are some of the wonderful contributions we have received:
Author, broadcaster, and editor
‘My gift of words to young people always comes in the form of the two books that gave me my lifelong love of language: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass. Lewis Carroll had an amazing way with words. He loved playing with language…I encourage kids to read the Alice books because in them they’ll meet some of the most amazing (and amusing) characters every created and will discover what fun words can be.’
Author and TV wordsmith
‘My gift of words this Christmas would be the story of Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier (The Lost Estate in English). I first read this haunting, dreamy tale when I was seventeen, and it has stayed with me ever since. It's about first love and a magical lost house, set in the twilight world between childhood and adolescence. Every time I pick it up, I fall under its spell again.’
Junior doctor and award-winning author
‘The gift I'd give to you are the beautiful poems by AA Milne, the creator of Winnie-The-Pooh, in Now We Are Six and When We Were Very Young. My favourite line from is from US TWO, when Pooh and Christopher Robin are looking for dragons; it's about being curious, adventurous and brave, and never afraid, with your best friend beside you! "I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he, "I'm never afraid with you."’
Former Waterstones Children’s Laureate and illustrator
‘When life feels too much to bear I think of these words and they help me focus on what is good and what can still be. Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do, with your one wild and precious life?”’
Get involved on social media using #GiftOfWords and spread the words!
Resources to inspire a love of words:
- Free children’s e-book library
- Help to Close the Word Gap
- Find out how words enter the dictionary
- Free OED webinar: The language of Covid-19
- More about Word of the Year 2020
- Oxford Children's Word of the Year 2020