Picture Books from Our Childhood

We've all heard a song on the radio that immediately transports us back to a particular moment in our life - a holiday with friends, school days, or a fond childhood memory. For many of us, books, and particularly picture books, have the same nostalgic power. We may not always remember the author, or even the storyline, but these special books have become part of our reading journey.

Within the Early Years team at Scottish Book Trust, we spend plenty of time reflecting on the picture books that we remember and loved as children, and that we still read today. Here, we share a selection of our favourites:


A dark dark tale cover

A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown

I am immediately overcome by nostalgia when I pick up a copy of Ruth Brown’s A Dark, Dark Tale. This book is a visual treat, with wonderfully atmospheric illustrations. There’s only a simple line of text on each double-page spread, but I remember turning the pages slowly, poring over the detailed pictures and feeling the excitement and anticipation grow. I read this book to my children and was pleased to find that even 35 years after it was first published, it still has the ability to scare and delight. - David Mackay

Boy with hat and shoes

Two Shoes, New Shoes by Shirley Hughes

To this day I can still recite the rhyme of Shirley Hughes's Two Shoes, New Shoes by heart. It was given to me by my Nana when I was two, and I can still picture her cursive dedication on the title page, with my full name and the date. I pored over the beautifully observed illustrations by Hughes, and I’m certain this book spurred an obsession with shoes and dressing up that I still have to this day. - Ruth Grindley

The Jolly Postman cover

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The thing I love most about The Jolly Postman is that I can read it again and again and it never gets old. When I was younger, I remember my dad finding it hilarious and catching him secretly reading it when he was supposed to be reading it to me! Everything about it is magical, from the carefully produced letters to the tiny details in the corner of the pages. I always thought its subtitle should have been "fairy-tale characters – where are they now?" as I loved seeing Cinderella in her new home and finding out about the lawsuit that was being brought against Mr Wolf. - Emma Dunn

topsy and tim learn to swim

Topsy and Tim: Learn to Swim by Jean and Gareth Adamson

This was one of my favourite books when I was young. I used to love to swim and really wanted to go to the same swimming pool that Topsy and Tim went to because it looked so much fun! I especially love the page when Topsy and Tim have to walk through the footbath to clean their feet before entering the pool as I remember the excitement of doing the same before I went swimming! I also remember the thrill of not needing my armbands to swim too, just like Topsy and Tim! - Rosalyn McGlynn


Miffy by Dick Bruna

I was always read to as a child, and I could choose a hundred picture books that stand out from my childhood: Meg and Mog, Topsy and Tim, Funnybones. But for me, Miffy was the start of my own reading journey. I'm in the first year of primary school, and the realisation dawns on me that I can start to read the words on the page myself. I remember proudly reading Miffy to my mum when I got home from school, and I've not really stopped reading since. - Lindsay Quayle

Burglar Bill image

Burglar Bill by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Favourite picture book from childhood? It’s got to be Burglar Bill. It’s the story of a burglar who comes home from a night’s burgling to find a baby on his doorstep. This new arrival throws his whole life into disarray and makes him re-think his life of crime. It’s a story that introduces a lot of themes but ultimately is about love and families. The language is exquisite, characters convincing and illustrations superb and it has stayed firmly in my mind since I first heard it. To this day, in our house, if you utter one of the lines from this Ahlberg classic you will be met by a chorus of people finishing it off. “A big brown box… with little ‘oles in it” “Date and walnut cake… with buttercream filling and icing on the top”. - Catriona Wallace

There are a wealth of beautiful, smart, funny, and fun picture books to chose from in every bookshop and library. But nothing compares to the joy of seeing your own children, nephews, nieces, and friends' little ones enjoying the books that you remember so fondly at their age.

We'd love you to share your favourites with us - drop us a note in the comments below if you have a picture book that stands out from your childhood!

Looking for a good picture book to read with your little ones? Check out our kids' book lists for loads of ideas! And picture books aren't just for the wee ones: we also have 12 Picture Books for Adults and 10 Picture Books for Older Children