Festive reads with a twist of tartan: middle grade

Here is the second part of our feature celebrating Scottish children’s books with a festive feel. The suggestions below are for readers aged 6+ (Click here for our picture book list.)

Not every book we mention is full of elves and white beards, but if there’s a sprinkling of snow, or it makes us feel like curling up with a packet of mince pies, that’s good enough!

We’ve included some of our favourites, but would love your suggestions too.

Elma the Elf and the Tinsel-Tastic Sled Zeppelin, by Nick Simons and Camilla Victoria Storm (Cranachan): we like this chapter-a-day advent book so much that we’re reading it for the third time this year. Elma is a fantastic, plucky wee character and we think this story is funnier and faster-paced than its high-profile competition (Full review here).


Winter’s Tales, by Lari Don (A&C Black): a collection that definitely fits our criteria of being something curl up and get cosy with. Lari Don’s book features winter stories from around the world, from how spiders invented tinsel, to the Norse legend of the hero with hairy trousers.


The Tzar’s Curious Runaways, by Robin Scott-Elliot (Everything with Words): Katinka’s life as a dancer in the Tzar’s circus comes to an abrupt end when her benefactor dies and she must flee in fear of her life. The epic Russian landscape makes this an apt winter read, and amid the tension there is kindness and connection for that festive feel-good glow. (Full review here)


There’s a Yeti in the Playground, by Pamela Butchart (Nosy Crow): Izzy and her friends are snowed in at school and there’s something hairy leaving really big footprints outside. Izzy’s school-based high-jinks have all been a hit with our 6-8-year-old readers and this one is the perfect fit for a snow day.


The Nowhere Emporium, by Ross Mackenzie (Kelpies): an enchanting story about a magical shop filled with Wonders created at the tilt of a pen, this is a delight iced with wintry chill to keep us gripped. The entire ’emporium’ trilogy is remarkable, but this first book remains our favourite. (Read our review of Book 3, the Otherwhere Emporium).


A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (Barrington Stoke): Sometimes it just has to be a classic, and here, the ultimate Christmas tale is expertly presented in a dyslexia-friendly font and style. If you’ve ever tried reading Dickens in the tiny, densely-printed text of a Complete Works, this edition will feel like a breath of fresh (crisp, snowy) air.

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