In Praise of World Book Day: Your Favourite Childhood Reads

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Category: Reading

World Book Day is happening this week, and even though everyone at Scottish Book Trust is too old to get a free book, we are all pretty excited! I still remember the World Book Day when J.K Rowling released Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as one of the standout moments of my childhood reading and I would still go back and read them today!

To celebrate World Book Day, we decided to look back over some of our favourite childhood reads and what made them special. So many of the books we read as kids shape our lives as readers as we develop, and most of them are worth a second read as a grown up.

Read on to see the different books that really stuck with Scottish Book Trust staffers over the years and the ones they would still read today.

The Chewing Gum Rescue and Other Stories by Margaret Mahy

Sasha de Buyl, Reader Development Administrator

I don’t know where it came from, but somehow I came into possession of a copy of The Chewing Gum Rescue and Other Stories by Margaret Mahy as a kid. Though the cover was pretty nondescript, the stories inside have stayed with me for life. Each story was packed with life and imagination – all so different yet totally rich. There was a story about a griffin who cried giant tears every night, and the tears rolled down a hill and filled a pool for two brothers to swim in, a story about a merry-go-round that would appear out of the forest and come to life only when a certain song was played and a story about a strange man who opened a corner shop to sell happiness, intelligence and wisdom from jars. Her imagination was powerful; it cracked my head right open and the stories have never left me.

Any others that deserve a mention?

I got the chance to read a lot of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books when I was young and they are just epic. Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter and The Brothers Lionheart are both fantastic, terrifying and totally action packed!


The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh

Heather Collins, Children's & Learning Audience Development Co-ordinator

Would you still read it today?

Heck yes! It’s magical and funny. A family of ragdolls brought to life by the spirit of their maker, living in a house pretending to be human – I know it sounds like it should be terrifying but it’s just beautiful. And obviously appeals to the crafter in me.

Any others that you loved and didn’t make the top spot?

Anything by Helen Cresswell, but particularly Bagthorpes Besieged – me and my dad laughed 'til we cried!


The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley

Beth Bottery, Children's Events Co-ordinator

I reread this book every few years. I still love the characters: the strong-willed, bow-wielding heroine Torina with her flame-coloured hair and the graceful, dispossessed Bellanes fighting to survive in a dangerous world. It’s a fast-paced romp of a fantasy book and I enjoy it just as much now as I did then. Maybe partly because it makes me remember how it made me feel when I first read it as an awkward, mousy girl from Hull thinking that there was adventure out there and I could totally take up archery if I wanted to!

Any other books that deserve a mention?

Matilda by Roald Dahl, Old Magic by Marianne Curly and The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman


Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

Phillipa Cochrane, Head of Learning

Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner completely sucked me in as a child and fostered a lifelong love of myth-based fantasy writing. It was the beginning of discovering the rest of the wonderful Mr Garner’s books. I am going to reread it very soon, as I have just bought the third book in the trilogy, Boneland.  Now, Weirdstone and its sequel, The Moon of Gomrath, were originally published in 1960 and 1963 respectively. It’s been a long wait, but one that means I will relish the final book!


Hiding Out by Elizabeth Laird

Catriona Wallace Early Years Programme Manager

Would you still read it today?

Absolutely! It’s definitely a comfort read, a bit like an old jumper. As a child I had a slightly morbid fascination with the idea of being lost and having to survive. The story is about a boy who gets left behind on a family holiday in France. It’s essentially a much better, less-Hollywood version of Home Alone. Our family went to France on holiday too so the concept was not far from what I knew. Reading it then, I wanted to experience an independence that aged 7 or 8 I wouldn’t have in real life. Reading it now, I am reminded of the child I was and am not really that different from.


The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Kirsty Sinclair, Early Years Programme Administrator

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy was my ABSOLUTE favourite book as a child. I made my Dad read it to me practically every night – he must’ve been sick of it! But I never tired of reading about Cackle’s Academy for Witches and all the mischief that Mildred Hubble and her friends got up to. I would definitely still read it now (and do!) as it brings back such happy memories.

Scottish Book Trust will be celebrating World Book Day proper by hosting the Scottish Children’s Book Awards this Thursday at the Caird Hall in Dundee. Stay tuned to find out which authors will win the coveted prize!

To learn more about World Book Day and how you can get a free book, check out the World Book Day website.

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