Monday, May 20, 2013

A Letter To David Attenborough

Ever since she was four years old, my daughter has been wanting to write a letter to David Attenborough.

She has this picture hanging up on her bedroom wall.
Photo Credit: Kids Britannica

David Attenborough is an English broadcaster, naturalist, and popularizer of science. He has been on the air for 60 years, traveling all over the world and bringing the stories of the animals of the planet to millions of people. He is the creator of shows such as "Life on Earth", "Planet Earth", "The Frozen Planet", and many more. Here in the United States, his nature documentaries are narrated by people like Oprah Winfrey or Sigourney Weaver. However, it is David Attenborough who has spent a lifetime studying, admiring, finding, and sharing the stories of these animals and their habitats. He is a legend among naturalists and nature enthusiasts, considered a national treasure in Britain, and Kat's all time favorite film maker.


When we first began watching his programs, she was 3 years old. She loved "The Life of Mammals" and would ask me to play the series repeatedly. She loved the Pikas; when they came on the screen she would squeak at the wind and pretend to carry flowers in to her blanket burrow. When her friends would come over, they would all ask to watch "The Pika Show". My living room would quickly transform into a rocky mountainside, filled with squeaking, burrowing 4 and 5 year olds, pretending to gather food for the rough months ahead.


These animals are SO cute! It's no wonder little kids like to pretend to be them.
Photo Credit CC Denali National Park

Since then, we've learned quite a lot about Life on Earth, its animals and their habitats, as well as how living things grow and evolve. Kat has developed a deep love and appreciation for our fellow animals, and knows far more about most of them than I do! She can tell me about the habitat, diet, lifestyle, challenges, and mating habits of almost any animal I ask about. She loves learning about and watching animals, and treats them with the same consideration and admiration that she has been shown from the countless documentaries we have seen.

So, when my four year old came up to me with the idea of writing a letter to David Attenborough, I thought it was a fantastic idea! She could express how much she likes his programs, she could share her love for animals and desire to protect them, she could ask him questions about his favorite animals and plants... she could tell him anything she wants! The only problem, was that she was a four year old who didn't know how to write yet. So, we put the idea on hold for a while as Kat learned how to read and write.

Over the next three years, Kat would bring up the letter to David Attenborough quite frequently. She kept it in her mind as she practiced writing letters and words; she held the goal as she later learned to write sentences. She even created a project called "Couch to David Attenborough" which, similar to the Couch to 5K running program, she would practice writing bit by bit, increasing the amount each day, until she was practiced enough to write her letter.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, Kat decided that the time had come. "Mom, today's the day. I'm going to write my letter to David Attenborough!". She grabbed a cup of orange juice and her favorite pink pen and sat down with great purpose, ready to pen her letter.

She's finally doing it!

She wrote slowly, with great care and patience. She gave consideration to each statement and question, and considered the spelling before setting pen to paper. I was very impressed. The handwriting in this letter was the best I had ever seen from her. Clearly, this was something that meant a lot to her!

Great job on your letter kiddo!

When she finished with her letter, she began to work on some drawings to give to him. She drew a portrait of her with her three cats, as well as a picture of her and David Attenborough, surrounded by some of her favorite animals from "Attenborough's Ark". Finally, she printed out a couple of pictures of herself to finish her package off.

Kat's putting the finishing touches on her package!

Once we had everything together, it was time to head to the post office! Kat was bubbling over with excitement. She was actually doing it. After all this time, she had a package, addressed, paid for, and ready to be sent off overseas to London. Kat was sending her letter to David Attenborough!

This is the most excited I have ever seen anyone at the post office!

Kat was so excited that she was finally able to write her letter to David Attenborough. We knew that it would take a while for it to arrive in London, and we had no idea if he would actually get her letter. He's a very busy man! He could be off anywhere in the world right now, shooting a new series about the animals on our planet and our responsibility to protect them. We had no way of knowing if he would ever actually get her letter, but she was very happy to have finally been able to do it. This was a big accomplishment for her, a goal that she had held onto for an impressive amount of time, and she had finally done it. Good job, Kat!

After a while, the excitement from sending her letter settled down, and we got back into our normal routine of school work during the day and watching David Attenborough before bed. Every once in a while, Kat would ask if I thought he got her letter. The answer was always the same, "I hope so, but we'll have no way of really knowing sweetie. I'm sure he'll get it someday". Little did we know how soon someday would be!

Within two weeks of sending her letter to David Attenborough, Kat got an unusual envelope in the mail. It had no return address and it had U.S.A. written on the bottom of our address. Hm.. had this envelope come from another country? Wait... could this be what we think it is?


Dear Kat,

Thank you for your letter and your lovely drawings. I am so glad you enjoyed my programs. I think your best drawing was the OLM.

Thank you for it.

Best Wishes,

David Attenborough

Oh my goodness, Kat got a letter from David Attenborough!!! What an incredible and wonderful surprise! She was absolutely THRILLED! She jumped up and down and squealed in excitement. She hugged me over and over again with some of the tightest hugs she'd ever given. Then she told me that we needed to get a frame for her letter. She wants to hang it in her room next to her picture of David Attenborough!

This is a VERY happy and excited little girl!

I had often heard that David Attenborough frequently responds to fan mail. I didn't expect however, for him to respond to her letter within a week of receiving it! This was a huge moment for Kat. She got a letter, written from one of her favorite people ever, and he talked about how much he liked one of her drawings! It is so wonderful that he took the time to pen her a letter in return, and to give thought and care for the little girl who lives halfway around the world. What a nice man. Thank you so much Sir David Attenborough!

As for Kat, I am very impressed that she has held on to this goal for so long and finally realized it. That is some dedication! Throughout her trials and triumphs of learning how to write, this is something that's been a goal for her, in the back of her mind, ready for that "someday". That someday finally came, and it was spectacular. What a wonderful experience. She'll be able to treasure this for the rest of her life.

Great Job, Kat!


If you are interested in contacting David Attenborough, here is the address to reach him!

David Attenborough
David Attenborough Productions, Ltd.
5 Park Road
Richmond
Surrey, TW10 6NS
UK





9 comments:

  1. So, what titan of world knowledge is she going to write to next? ;)

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    1. I don't know! I asked her last night, and she said she'd like to write to Richard Feynman, but he passed away a long time ago. She's going to think about it a little more, perhaps Bill Nye? I don't know, but I think she should definitely keep writing to people who inspire her! :)

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    2. I met Bill Nye. By far one of the chillest dudes I ever got to meet.

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    3. I second this. Bill Nye is a great guy. Very friendly and approachable.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this story! I'm so happy for your little girl. The world needs more curious and adventurous minds like hers :)

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  3. Did you tell Mr. Attenborough the story of your daughter wanting to write him a letter so badly that it motivated her to learn to write? I have been a fan of David and his programmes for years and this was a very heartwarming story, I'm sure he would love to hear the story behind the letter a little girl from the USA sent him!

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    1. I didn't!

      I'm sure he would love to hear the story behind this, and I would love to tell it to him! But for her letter, I wanted any return correspondence to be simply on the merit of what she wanted to send him. :)

      I'll look for an email address or something that I can use to send this to him. It would be really cool for him to know about her goal! :)

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  4. Thank you thank you thank you!! After reading this, I mailed off a letter of my own and he responded!! I nearly died with excitement. And I blogged about it:

    http://ottergoestogradschool.blogspot.com/2013/10/best-day-ever.html

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    1. Oh my goodness, I am SO excited for you! How wonderful! I read your story, congratulations on such a thrilling experience! :)

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