Several years ago it was feared electronic devices would soon replace paper and hardback books in the nation’s hearts.
Given Scotland’s history of producing some of the finest authors and inspiring much-loved literary works, thankfully it turned out to be utter hogwash!
Books remain a staple in many of our lives, with hard copies still the preferred choice of discerning readers.
There’s little doubt we are a nation of story-tellers, whether that be making up tales for our children at bedtime or penning a multi-million pound franchise, à la JK Rowling.
Now, VisitScotland has hit on a unique idea to celebrate our love of storytelling and to encourage youngsters, in this Year of Young People, to become part of the story.
Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager at VisitScotland, said: “From Peter Rabbit to Peter Pan, Harry Potter to The Howlat, Scotland has inspired some of the world’s best-loved literary creations.
“Whether it’s history, landscapes, wildlife or even architecture, for decades authors have used some of the country’s greatest assets to create characters that continue to delight readers of all ages.
“In recognition of this, VisitScotland has launched Scotland’s Storybook Trail, a collection of places with links to some of the most celebrated characters in children’s literature.
“Our landscapes, history and people have inspired writers for centuries, helping to bring to life enduring characters that capture the imaginations of not just youngsters but grown-ups too.
“A great story has to have great characters and that’s what inspired Scotland’s Storybook Trail.
“We wanted to create something, as we celebrate the Year of Young People 2018, that encourages book lovers of all ages to discover the places and people behind these famous fictional friends.”
The trail comprises a colourful map, which is hosted on visitscotland.com and available at selected VisitScotland iCentres, as well as bookshops and libraries across Scotland.
It aims to help bookworms embark on their own adventures across the country, learning more about their favourite stories and discovering new tales inspired by, or written in, Scotland.
Featured locations include the birthplace of Peter Pan creator JM Barrie in Kirriemuir, Angus; the Isle of Coll, the inspiration of Katie Morag’s fictional home on the Isle of Struay; the Scottish Owl Centre in West Lothian where readers can meet some feathered friends, similar to those that featured in the Harry Potter series and Birnam Arts in Perthshire, the region that inspired Beatrix Potter’s famous creations.
And it’s not just the book locations that will appeal to young readers – the trail includes some great bookshops and festivals around Scotland too.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, said: “Scotland has a rich history of iconic literary characters, created or inspired by its places and people. Visiting locations with a special connection to favourite stories or figures is a real thrill for fans of any age and Scotland’s Storybook Trail is packed with superb suggestions.
“Now is the perfect time to take a trip round our beautiful country and enjoy again, or for the first time, some of the greatest Scottish stories ever told and the places where the creative spark started – just don’t forget to pack a book!”
Fiona Hyslop, Tourism Secretary, believes the map will also attract more visitors to Scotland.
She said: “In this, Scotland’s Year of Young People, the Storybook Trail not only celebrates Scotland’s rich literary heritage and incredible landscapes but it also provides an opportunity to encourage children to read for pleasure and develop a life-long love of books.
“And with so many locations across the country linked to characters in children’s literature, I am sure the trail will also act as a magnet for visitors from home and abroad who will experience our beautiful, vibrant country.”
So why not take a magical adventure from page to place and discover just a handful of the Scottish locations with literary links to some of our best-loved stories?
To view the trail on screen, visit static.visitscotland.com/pdf/scotlands-storybook-trail.pdf or for more inspiring ideas for literary days out, visit https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/family-2/storybook-trail.
Book in for literary festivals
Why not continue your literary adventure with a visit to one of Scotland’s book festivals?
Killearn Children’s Festival will be held on Sunday, September 2, offering a fun-filled day packed with events and activities aimed at little bookworms.
Learn how to draw a dragon, get tips on writing your own stories or listen to a host of tales from authors of some of the most exciting new books.
And Wigtown Book Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary from September 21 to 30.
The award-winning festival takes place in Scotland’s National Book Town.
For 10 days, the town buzzes with book events as well as theatre, music and a dedicated children’s garden offering activities for younger readers.