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This conceptual paper examines the use of odours and scents in books to enhance storytelling and engage readers. While books often possess a distinctive smell linked to their material production, the intentional use of scents in books is rare. Our study focuses on scratch-and-sniff books, examining their narrative purposes and contributions to young children's literature. We conduct a narrative historical review, supplemented by a systematic search of databases, online catalogues and lists, to identify a collection of these scented books. Through this review, we explore the extent to which these books represent a unique category of children's picture books, investigating how their features align with theoretical understandings of quality characteristics in children's literature and the role of olfactory cues in storytelling. We address why most scented books target younger readers and discuss possible reasons for the absence of scented books for an adult readership. This intriguing asymmetry contrasts the use of scent in other media (such as film, theatre or virtual reality), often directed toward adults. In addition, this review sheds light on the innovative use of scents in books and their impact on reader immersion and narrative experience. Finally, we consider possible future uses of scent in the context of digital books (ebooks).

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Journal article



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books, development, reading, scent, storytelling