MY earliest memories of the Scots language involve being told off for speaking it by a well-intentioned family member – who thought it would harm my life chances – and listening to The Jeely Piece Song in school.

Scots was spoken just about everywhere where I grew up on the west coast, but representations of the leid outside of everyday speech were reserved to songs, the odd Robert Burns poem and TV shows such as Still Game.

This is a reflection of the fact that historically Scots is an oral language, despite it having a literary history going back hundreds of years.

By the time I reached young adulthood, I felt ashamed of my younger self for speaking almost entirely Scots and saw it as nothing more than a cultural quirk I could use to be funny.

That’s an experience I don’t want young people today to have.

Contrary to what I was led to believe, I’m of the opinion that weans in Scotland will have much better life chances if they embrace the Scots language from an early age.

After all, it’s a fact that multilingualism is a good thing, improving literacy across the board, with additional benefits including increasing a person’s confidence and creating a sense of community for native citizens and immigrants alike.

When I eventually decided I wanted to be a writer, I tried and failed to tell my stories in English, completely oblivious to the fact I had another language at my disposal, which I later learned came more naturally to me because it was my first tongue.

Can you imagine how many young people today might be more engaged with their literacy if they’re given permission to read and write in Scots from the get-go instead of having English solely forced upon them when it’s not necessarily their first language?

While steps have been taken to expose children to Scots, and teach it through qualifications such as the Scots Language Award, the majority of Scots literature available to young people is still in the form of translations – once again suggesting that it’s the inferior language to English.

I’ve been told that the number of creative pieces written in Scots is a fraction of the number submitted in English in Scottish schools – and don’t get me started on the fact that many young people are being cheated out of another qualification because Scots is still not routinely taught in most Scottish classrooms.

Don’t get me wrong, Scots translations serve a purpose and reading familiar stories such as Harry Potter in Scots could open the door to Scots literacy for many bairns.

But Scots is fundamentally a separate language from English – with its own grammar, syntax and words, and that’s why Scots buiks for bairns are so important.

When Scots is written down and placed side by side with English books on the shelves, it’s almost impossible to deny that it is a language in its own right.

That’s why I decided to write an original Scots book for children, called The Hoolet Thit Couldnae Fly.

I wanted to tell a story in the language more than 1.5 million people in Scotland speak – and it’s a story that says it’s OK to be different, which is how many Scots speakers often feel in a Scotland where they are still predominately exposed to English.

When I embraced my Scots literacy later in life, I was amazed to learn a host of new Scots words and a few of them made their way into The Hoolet Thit Couldnae Fly, which also teaches bairns many Scots animal names as they journey with a wee lassie called Iona as she tries to find her missing hoolet (owl) one cauld winter’s day.

In collaboration with my publisher, Luath Press, we created a text that is not only an enjoyable story but a book that encourages children aged seven to 10 to think about their experiences of language and realise there’s a host of benefits to embracing the multilingualism that naturally exists in modern Scotland.

Dr Michael Dempster, the director of the Scots Language Centre, said: “Every creative wark in Scots is a walcome addition tae oor mair than seiven hunner year o literature.

“The hale o warld literature is available fir tae be pittin intae Scots, but original warks are indicative thit oor linguistic culture is healthy an productive.

“The Scottish Government’s Scots Publication Grant facilitatit bi the Scottish Book Trust wi the support o the Scots Language Resoorce Netwirk, alang wi a renewed enthusiasm fir Scots amang Scotland’s publishers is seein a fowth o original warks in Scots.

“Bi aw indications original creative warks in oor livin language are ainly gaun’ae increase. Mair pooer tae aw involved!”

Emma Grae is an author and journalist. Her new book The Hoolet Thit Couldnae Fly comes out on Thursday