Burns for Bairns: Celebrating Scots Stories, Songs and Rhymes

Burns Night, Scotland's celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns, is almost upon us. What better way to include young children in this national celebration than with the sharing of some traditional Scottish stories, songs and rhymes?  

Cover of Rabbie's Rhymes with girl and mouse
There are so many great children's books written in Scots. Rabbie's Rhymes: Burns for Wee Folk is a great one to start with, featuring snippets of well-known Burns verses including Ca the Yowes, Ye Banks and Braes, and Auld Lang Syne. Its bright, bold illustrations are perfect for engaging young babies and children.

Likewise, the Katie series of books illustrated by Karen Sutherland are a lovely way of introducing wee ones to new Scots words and rhymes. Play keek-a-boo with Katie as she goes on the hunt in Katie's Moose, discover more about Jenny Lang-Legs, Ettercaps and other creepy crawlies from Scotland in Katie's Beasties and learn some of our favourite Bookbug rhymes in Katie's Coo: Scots Rhymes for Wee Folk.

For slightly older children, James Robertson has created Scots translations of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, The Highway Rat (The Reiver Rat) and What the Ladybird Heard (Whit The Clockleddy Heard) amongst others. As with Julia Donaldson's originals, they are fantastic for reading aloud in your best Scottish accent! Likewise, Robertson's celebration of Scottish landscape and nature, The Boy and the Bunnet is an absolute treasure. The 'tale o a young laddie cried Neil who bides in a wee white hoose, aw on its ain beside the sea' is a delight to read to young ones, and the musical score created to accompany the story is definitely worth a listen too.

If you're a fan of classic picture books, you will love The Teeger That Cam for his Tea, Susan Rennie's brilliant translation of Judith Kerr's original. Rennie brings the book to life with her lively Scot's twist on the original, and her 'muckle, furry, strippit teeger' is as adorable as ever!

My Luve's Like a Red Red Rose cover image
But perhaps most fitting for this week's celebrations is My Luve's Like A Red, Red RoseBurns's original poem is retold as a celebration of the love between a mother and her daughter, with beautiful illustrations by Ruchi Mhasane. Young children, and even babies, respond well to the sound of poetry or verse because of it's sense of rhythm and rhyme. Babies in the womb also find it easier to hear rhyming texts so this is a lovely book to share with your baby bump. Here's a wee reminder of one of our favourite verses from this classic Burns poem:

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, 

So deep in luve am I; 

And I will luve thee still, my dear, 

Till a' the seas gang dry.

Burns Night is also a wonderful opportunity to share some traditional Scots songs and rhymes with your wee ones. Songs like Ally Bally, Katie Bairdie and Three Caws are favourites at many Bookbug Sessions - but don't worry if you can't remember the words, we have these and many other Scots songs available to watch and listen to in our Bookbug Song and Rhyme Library

Sharing books, songs and rhymes in Scots is a great way to introduce your little ones to this vibrant language at any time of the year, not just Burns Night. Children love the sound of Scots words and will have fun saying them along with you. And if you're new to Scots, don't worry about pronouncing everything perfectly - remember that children will just enjoy hearing the sound of new words, and learning a little about Scottish culture at the same time.

Find more ways to introduce your young children to Scots in our film by former Scots Language Co-ordinator, Katrina Lucas. Read more about the rise of Scots picture books in our blog, Discovering Scots Picture Books.

Keep an eye on our Bookbug Facebook Page next week for your chance to win a copy of the beautiful picture book, My Luve's Like A Red, Red Rose.