An image of four children's books set in Scotland or by Scottish authors. They sit side by side on a dark and light blue montage background

Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

Listen by Shannon Stocker & Devon Holzwarth (2022)

Listen is the true story of the deaf Scottish percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. Born able to hear, at the age of eight Evelyn’s ears began to hurt. Sounds became muffled and voices reduced to distant whispers. Despite being told that she would have to wear hearing aids for the rest of her life, Evelyn was determined to not let her deafness hold her back when it came to playing music. So, she found a new way to listen… This beautiful picture book will inspire every child to never give up on their dreams.

The Katie Morag Treasury by Mairi Hedderwick (2014)

It’s time to put on your wellies and explore the mythical Isle of Struay with Scotland’s favourite rosy-cheeked adventurer: Katie Morag. This bonnie treasury contains seven wonderful stories about Katie’s rural life, as well as six folktales from Grannie Island’s Ceilidh. Each page is packed with quirky characters and charming illustrations to help transport young readers to this wonderful Scottish island.

The Boggart and the Monster by Susan Cooper (2018)

Our favourite shape-shifting Boggart is back with his friends Emily and Jess Volnik, and this time they need to help the Boggart’s cousin Nessie. Nessie lives in Loch Ness and is stuck in the shape of a monster he took on years ago. He was safe enough, sleeping at the bottom of the loch and popping up to the surface every now and then. But a new science expedition determined to find the fabled monster now threatens Nessie’s safety. Fans of the mythical legend will love this Scottish adventure.

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray & Manuel Sumberac (2020)

Scottish author Struan Murray’s fantastical Orphans of the Tide trilogy is ideal for fans of adventures like His Dark Materials. In the first book, a fearsome god known as The Enemy has drowned the world and it appears only one city – a city very similar to Murray’s hometown of Edinburgh – still stands. One day, a mysterious boy washes ashore inside the body of a whale and incites panic among the people of The City who believe he is The Enemy returned. It’s up to fearless inventor Ellie to save this strange boy and prove his innocence.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

Robert Louis Stevenson is one of Scotland’s most prolific and notable authors, having written renowned stories such as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and, of course, Treasure Island. His tale Kidnapped – set in his homeland – is a thrilling action-adventure that is perfect for young readers with a fondness for a classic read. A tragic tale full of murder, exploit, and of course, kidnapping – Kidnapped is quintessentially Scottish; awash with clans, Highlands, and desolate moors. It’s a novel so rich, you can almost smell the heather.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1911)

Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, was created by Scottish author J. M. Barrie. As most of us know, the story begins in London but then a visit from Peter sees the Darling children fly off to Neverland. There, they have many awfully big adventures, including saving Princess Tiger Lily, partying with the Lost Boys and battling Captain Hook and his band of pirates. This magical tale is a must-read for every young reader.

The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith (1990)

Nothing says Scotland like the tale of a Water Horse, or as all Highlanders fondly know it, ‘Nessie’. Eight-year-old Kirstie goes beachcombing near her Scottish home after a storm and stumbles upon an intriguing egg washed up on the shore. When it hatches, Kirstie and her family quickly discover this is no ordinary creature: it’s a kelpie! It quickly outgrows its bathtub nursery, and the family is forced to find their monster-sized pet a new home. This charming fantasy novel is written by the beloved author Dick King-Smith, and is full of relatable characters with tales of friendship and loyalty.

Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson (1912)

Greyfriars Bobby is based on the true story of the Skye terrier who, after his beloved master Jock passed away, refused to leave his grave. In Eleanor Atkinson’s classic, Bobby adopts lonely shepherd Auld Jock and the pair become inseparable. Sadly, during one cold winter, Jock passes away. The farmer who refused to give Jock work then tries to claim Bobby as a pet for his daughter. However, the fearless little dog is loyal only to Jock and continues to guard his master’s grave in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town.

Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori (2002)

The quirky but endearing Strega-Borgia family live in Argyll and Bute in their impressive manor StregaSchloss. Surrounded by 500 acres of ancient forest, it’s a picture-perfect setting. But all is not perfect in the manor: Signor Luciano (Dad) has been kidnapped by his evil half-brother; Signora Baci (Mum) is struggling badly with spells at her witch academy; Titus and Pandora (the hero and heroine of this story) are highly suspicious of their new questionably cheerful nanny Mrs McLachlan; and Baby Damp (the littlest Strega-Borgia) is constantly getting into mischief. If you like The Addams Family with a dash of Mary Poppins, you’ll love this gothic-style pageturner.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

One of the most famous anthropomorphic animal tales, The Wind in the Willows, was written by Scottish author Kenneth Grahame. Although the story appears to be set in the English countryside where Grahame grew up, the canal is said to be based on the Crinan Canal in the west of Scotland. Ratty, Mole, Badger and the reckless Mr Toad enjoy lots of adventures along the riverside – however, a group of villainous weasels have their eyes on Toad Hall…

The Paw House by Megan Rix (2018)

Hamish isn’t looking forward to the summer holidays. His parents are off on a business trip to Japan, whereas Hamish is off to the Scottish Highlands to stay with his Aunt Helen who he barely knows. Helen runs a sanctuary called The Paw House, but Hamish has never even stroked a dog let alone looked after any animals. Still, it isn’t long before he’s fully immersed himself in life at The Paw House – he even ends up adopting a pig! But when the fate of the sanctuary is put on the line, it’s up to Hamish to save his newfound friends.

The Silver Swan by Michael Morpurgo & Christian Birmingham (2001)

It all began when a swan landed on his loch – a silver swan. Scotland’s sweeping landscapes make the perfect setting for this story of a young boy learning about the ups and downs of the natural world. Michael Morpurgo once again showcases his ability to write with compassion about the unique relationship between humans and animals. With its stunning pastel illustrations, this picture book will remain a classic for years to come.

Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen (2016)

Fans of dystopian reads will want to dive straight into Where Monsters Lie. Set in an atmospheric Scottish village, the children of Mivtown have grown up hearing the legend of the monsters in the loch. They know it’s only a story, a myth – but then mysterious things begin to occur in the village, and we’re left wondering if there really is something quite curious going on. This eerie, spine-tingler of a book by Polly Ho-Yen is a fantastic way to introduce the concept of folklore and legends to younger readers.

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson (2016)

Inspired by Beatrix Potter’s childhood holidays to Scotland, The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit follows Peter as he takes his adventures beyond Mr McGregor’s Garden to a land of kilts, clans, and giant radishes. Based on Potter’s original tales, Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson continues Peter’s tales of mischief in this beautiful hardcover picture book.

Bonnie Dundee by Rosemary Sutcliff (1983)

Based on a real-life historical event, Bonnie Dundee by Rosemary Sutcliff is a novel set in 17th-century Scotland. It focuses on the Covenanters, a group of Scots who want religious freedom from English rule and their rebellion. With tension mounting between the two sides of the divided country, a bloody battle ensues. Bonnie Dundee’s key themes remain relevant today.

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