Sunday, 22 August 2010

TSS: Building a Child’s Library

The Sunday

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.

Chapter books

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.

pippi Then of course there is Pippi. I’m not sure what to say about Pippi other than the fact that she is seen here as someone who empowers children.

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

Ronja 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 Mio, My Son is about a young boy who has to fight evil. It is recommended at 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)




brothers lionheart 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.


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


gautami tripathy said...

I like the covers of the books. I wish to be a kid again!

Here is my Sunday Salon post!

readerbuzz said...

I see many of these on the list of 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. It is almost impossible for me to obtain some of them in the US, sadly.

I have many, many children's book recommendations. That is what I do for a living; I am a children's librarian!

I have a recent post about the ten books I've read recently from the 1001 list that I've loved.

Also, I have lots of reviews for nonfiction picture books. I love nonfiction picture books.

Anonymous said...

My kids spent their first 6 years in England so I have some ideas on good books.

The first one you need to get is Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, which is an absolutely lovely, sweet book. See

Another book that you can't leave out is The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Debie Gliori's books about Mr Bear are also a must.

For the slightly older child (we're talking 2, 3 years and up) the books by Dr Seuss are fantastic. Honestly! And if for some odd reason the child doesn't like it, you as adult will do!

Hope it's useful. There are loads of great children's book of course, but these stand out in my head.

BTW Please enter my giveaway (Europe) if you like!

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Oh, my gosh ... this could be a post in and of itself. (You've just given me some inspiration for one!) But right off the top of my head, some essential books for a child's library:

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

Little Quack (forget the author)

Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch

On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier

Anything by Jamie Lee Curtis

Hope that helps for now!

Jenny said...

Anything by William Steig, but particularly Brave Irene. Ummm, The Little Witch Sisters; most things that Janet and Alan Ahlberg have written; The Lady with the Ship on Her Head; anything by Dr. Seuss. Rumer Godden's doll books when she gets a bit older.

Vasilly said...

I definitely agree with Jenny about William Steig. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is one of my favorite books by Steig.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Anything by Dr. Seuess, Kevin Henkes, and Mo Willems

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett -chapter book

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr along with Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

There's also the Toot and Puddle series by Holly Hobbie

Duck and Goose by Tad Hills
Anything by Kit Allen - board books

Hope this helps.