So as many of you know I recently became an aunt and now I need your help. My sister, being very much herself, refuses to speak English to the little girl, I, being the good aunt I am, promised my b-i-l that I would always speak English to her so that she would learn. I figure because of this it will also be my job to ensure that she has a decent library of books in English. Here is where you guy’s come in. I want your suggestions for books every child should have in their library. In return I will highlight some Swedish children’s books that have been translated into English that I think every child should have the opportunity to read. I’ve divided them into picture books and chapter books. First the picture books (links to BookDepository where possible, otherwise Powells (where I am not an affiliate))
Picture books (in no particular order)
The Children of the Forrest by Elsa Beskow
Peter in the Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow
The Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman by Elsa Beskow
All of Elsa Beskow’s books are beautiful and sweet. I picked these three because they were firm favourites with me when I was growing up. The Tale of the Little, Little Old Woman was the first book I “read” (I had my parents read it to me so many times that I knew it by heart). The Children of the Forrest is a beautiful story about taking care of those less fortunate and about taking care of nature. It has now come out in a compact form which is perfect for little hands. Peter in the Blueberry Land is a beautiful, imaginative story. Really you can’t go wrong with anything by Beskow
A Rumpus in the Garden by Sven Nordqvist
Pancakes for Findus by Sven Nordqvist
These two books are about a man and his cat who get into all sorts of scrapes, partially because the cat is dressed in shorts and a hat and talks to the man, no one else hears him and therefore they think he is strange. They are hysterically funny for children and parents alike, if nothing else for the incredibly detailed drawings with all sorts of things going on.
Here I am going to recommend Astrid Lindgren. Really, ANYTHING by her is going to be awesome.
Lotta on Troublemaker Street is a good first chapter book (the heroine of the book is a 5 year old girl who wishes she was as old as her older brother and sister). And there are at least two more books about Lotta translated into English. (Read the book, understand the pig :D)
If you have boys the books about Emil (Emil and the Sneaky Rat, Emil and the Great Escape and Emil’s Clever Pig) are sure to be big hits, although, I’m a girl and I love them so pretty much everyone loves them ;) For those of you who have not met Emil before, he is a young boy (about 6 I think) who somehow manages to get into trouble even when he isn’t trying. Or, actually, he usually ends up in trouble when he is trying to do something nice because it goes wrong. When it does his father chases him (or his mother urges him with his dad running after) into the woodshed where he carves wood animals while his dad calms down.
I do so wish that the books about Madicken had been translated into English, they would be my very first recommendation to anyone (are you listening publishers?)
Chapter Books for Older Children
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is a wonderfully empowering story about a young girl. It covers topic such as loyalty, honesty, friendship, love (not the romantic kind really) and a growing sense of independence. It is set in a far off mystical time, so it has a certain fantasy feel to it.
There are two chapter books by Astrid Lindgren that I think all children should read, but they should probably have at least started school before you give them to them. And if they are sensitive (I am*) you might want to read them aloud so you can talk about it.
Mio, My Son is about a young boy who has to fight evil. It is recommended at adlibris.se for ages 9-12 and I always thought it was a bit scary. But also very thought provoking. (on a slightly unrelated note but I know this interest some of you ;) my brother and his girlfriend have a cat named Mio after the character in this book)
The Brothers Lionheart is a story about death, love and courage. Some might want to pre-read this (or skip it entirely) depending on your families views on what happens after death. Again, as a child I found this book a bit upsetting but at the same time I loved it. (Looking up this book on BookDepository other suggested books that came up with it were the Hunger Games series for an idea of who might like it, although I wouldn’t call it dystopian, it does have certain dystopian elements, and it is certainly an adventure story).
*Growing up I couldn’t watch tv shows or movies where children or animals went missing from their families and had adventures because I would spend the entire time wailing “I want him to find his mommy, why can’t he find his mommy”. One show was so particularly bad I couldn’t even hear the theme tune before I started crying.