Discovering Scots Picture Books

Animal ABC front cover
Category: Bookbug

I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical when I read my first Scots picture book. I felt a bit silly reading it and I wasn’t sure how confident I’d feel reading it to children. It seemed a bit gimmicky and I couldn’t really figure out the benefits of reading it. I’d mentioned the ‘Katie’s’ series, published by Itchycoo (pictured below), to my sister Hannah, who has a 10-month-old daughter, Astrid. Hannah sought them out at her local library and also admitted that when reading them to Astrid in the library, she read them quietly in case anyone should overhear her.

Katie and Tiger
But it only took me a few days of searching out more books, reading them to myself and learning more about the language before I completely fell in love with its rhythm and rhyme and beautiful descriptive words.

There has been a real focus on the Scots language over the past few years in Scotland, particularly after the introduction of the Scots Language Policy by the Scottish Government. The aim of this policy is to raise the profile of the language in Scotland and to eliminate the misconception that Scots is simply slang, as well as to preserve it for future generations.

In the 2011 census, over 1.5 million people living in Scotland identified themselves as Scots speakers. It was therefore concluded that Scots should continue to be reflected in education, arts, media and more.

Scots is perfect for children’s picture books as it lends itself really well to rhythm and rhyme.

The Scots language has also been adopted into the Curriculum for Excellence, with a network of Scots Language Co-ordinators established by Education Scotland. Their role is to develop awareness amongst learners, their families and wider communities to support the Scots language and encourage its use in learning; through listening and talking, and writing and reading. They will also encourage the use of Scots in developing literacy skills and addressing the Raising Attainment for All agenda.

Scots has a strong literary tradition ranging from Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns to the principle force behind the Scottish Renaissance, Hugh MacDiarmid and contemporary Scots writer Liz Lochhead. There are some great Scots reads for children available too. So, why don’t you introduce your little one(s) to this rich language by exploring the wonderful Scots picture books on the market at the moment? They are full of fantastic Scots characters: “Bricht and spattie clockleddys”, “halliracket hoolets”, “sliddery slaters” and “lowpin puddocks”.

Scots is perfect for children’s picture books as it lends itself really well to rhythm and rhyme - I can’t help but sing the words in my head whenever I’m reading them, or even sing them out loud! If you haven’t already I would urge you to seek out these books and explore them with your children. 



If you're interested in reading some Scots to your little ones, find some inspiration on our Scots Language Books or 5 Books with Scots Regional Dialects booklists.

You could also win a copy of the fantastic 12 Days o Yule in our Bookbug Book of the Month competition - the perfectly festive Scots picture book.