Children’s Books by British Author Nicola Davies pitch for Ecology Awareness in Oman
British author and zoologist Nicola Davies has a deep passion for nature and environmentalism which she shares with the young readers of her children’s books.
The Welsh writer has a degree in zoology from Cambridge and has had various jobs, including studying geese in Scotland and humpback whales in Canada, and also worked as a present for the BBC children’s wildlife programme The Really Wild Show, so her passion for the environment is strong. She is visiting TAISM and ABA this week to talk to children about writing and the importance of protecting the planet.
“Quietly from the grassroots up people are starting to realise that we don’t have another planet. We only have one and we need to share it with all the other species here, not just because without them we would die of loneliness…but because without nature, for all our technology, for all our mobile phones, and our concrete roads, we can’t survive. We are utterly dependent on the processes of nature,” Davies told Times of Oman.
Through her writing, which includes fiction, non-fiction and picture books about animals as diverse as whales, bears and elephants and scientific subjects like microbes and nature in general, Davies hopes to inspire her young readers to be concerned about the creatures they share the world with. Her Heroes of the Wild series featured positive conservation stories in a fictionalised way to make them exciting for young people, she explained.
She says she is lucky because children are generally fascinated by animals and nature, and want to know more about them, so they are an eager audience for her books. At each school she visits, she asks every group of children she meets if they like animals.
“I have never been with a group of children where every hand didn’t go up. They have an absolutely innate fascination because as children they still feel that instinctive connection to the natural world,” Davies said.
Much of Davies’ writing is based on real world experience, as she travels to the places she writes about to explore them firsthand and meet the people and animals themselves. She has visited Bhopal, India to research dancing bears and the Garo Hills in northeastern India to research elephants, and last year visited Armenia to research a story about elephant poaching.
“When you go to the place and talk to the people who are involved in the story you are trying to cover what you find is bits of real life that are lying around on the ground that you just have to pick up and stitch together,” Davies said about her writing process.
She encourages the students she meets to practice writing from the real world, too, by observing the scenes around them and writing description, and by listening to conversation and taking notes, which she says are great source material for writing relatable books.
Her own passion for words and language dates back to her childhood, as she was from a family who loved reading and poetry. She remembers listening to her father recite Keats as he shaved in the mornings.
Though Davies didn’t begin writing until she was in her 30s, when she did there was no question that her subject would be animals and the environment, she admitted. “My love of the natural world is kind of the overriding force in my life. It goes right now through the middle of me like writing in a stick of rock,” she said.