Monday, April 28, 2014

Free-range children and Kids' Dorset

The March issue of Dorset Magazine features the book Kids’ Dorset.   

Author Sarah-Jane Forder was born and brought up in Dorset and now lives in Dorchester. She’s spent a career in book and magazine publishing, is former editor of The National Trust Magazine and has worked for Bloomsbury and Jonathan Cape. Feeding her passion for the countryside, history and the downright odd, she’s constantly out and about in Dorset with her daughter and friends.

She has written about the current concern regarding children’s disconnect with the natural world and links with global issues, which inspired the research and writing of Kids’ Dorset
"Kids in Dorset are very lucky in that they have so much on their doorstep. Due to its incredible geology, so often quoted in geography textbooks, the Dorset coast is now a World Heritage Site ..."
Eye up the fossils in the Dorset County Museum (from Kids' Dorset, photo by Daniel Rushall)
"Dorset the place – the spirit of the place – is essentially unchanged. It’s still a rural landscape of countryside and coast. It’s still distinctively Dorset: nowhere else in the world could host the annual nettle-eating or knob-throwing championships (see page 47).’
Dame Fiona Reynolds, in an interview in Country Walking Magazine, also promotes free-range children:
"Playing outside encourages children to be adventurous, to test themselves and get muddy, to experience nature rather than have it served up on TV. The sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch of the outdoors stimulate every aspect of a child’s experience, whereas the TV or on-screen games are narrow and introspective. Statistics are alarming: fewer than 1:10 children play regularly in wild places now, compared to almost half a generation ago."
Wade across the River Frome at Moreton (from Kids' Dorset, photo by Daniel Rushall) 
That’s why every parent/grandparent should have a copy of Kids’ Dorset. Refreshingly simple, ask a bunch of kids what their favourite places in Dorset are, then visit them and ask families to test them out; if they get the kids’ approval, bingo! You’ve got the makings of this book.
  • ·         The best of Dorset in words and pictures
  • ·         Inspired ideas for exploring and having fun
  • ·         For all those tired of hearing ‘I’m bored, can we go home now?’

Sarah-Jane says, ‘Having a young daughter myself, I know how hard it is to inspire them with a walk or visit to ‘some boring grown-up place’. But just let them choose somewhere out of Kids’ Dorset and you’ll be laughing. Many of the places and activities are free, which is another bonus. It just shows you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a day out together.’
Commandeer a king's castle - Portland Castle (from Kids' Dorset, photo by Daniel Rushall)

Kids' Dorset is the place to start an adventure. 
Available from Roving Press (, priced £6.99.

Copyright Julie Musk 2014

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