Do you know a nature-loving young person? Someone who loves to point out a twittering bird or pick up a passing bug? Because we at the Guardian are looking for some young people to write about nature, for a new series called the Young Country Diary. Interested? Read on …
The Country Diary is a column that appears in the Guardian every day, and is written by our team of “diarists” who live all over the UK. Each article is about an encounter they had with nature: what they saw, what they heard, what happened. And it’s not all about animals – we’re just as interested in trees and meadows as blackbirds and bees. The Country Diary has been going for 115 years, making it the oldest newspaper column in the world.
The Young Country Diary is where we hand over the column to young, budding writers, once a month.
First of all, as we’re interested in nature writers age 8 to 14, we will need a parent’s or guardian’s permission. Once they have that, here’s what they need 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 200 words. If they want to send photos too (taken by anyone), that’s great, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t.
Step 3 – Paste their piece below and fill out all the 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?
The deadline for entry is Monday 17 May and is open to anyone aged between 8 and 14 and based in the UK. We will select two articles to be published in the first Young Country Diary on Saturday 5 June, online and in the newspaper. For future YCDs (Saturday 3 July, Saturday 7 August and so on), we may contact you to see if they would like to write a new piece, because all the pieces need to be recent. Anybody who is published will be paid.
For further inspiration, here are a few recent Country Diaries:
Good luck, everyone!
Paul Fleckney, editor of Country Diary
You can get in touch by filling in the form below. 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, and your parent or guardian, before we publish, so please do leave contact details.