Growing up the grandchild of Swedish immigrants, Swedish illustrated picture books, and especially Swedish Christmas books, were a steady part of my reading diet. They remain some of my all time holiday books.
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This list contains books for kids about Christmas, St. Lucia Day, which is a festival of light celebration on December 13th, as well as winter-themed books. So go ahead, sit back and travel to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Just don't forget your tomten guide and a few pepparkakkor (those yummy little ginger spice cookies).
Oh, and of course you will want to make a few kid-made Swedish ornaments. They are super easy, I promise:
Note! My favorite books is first on the list, my second favorite is last, so scroll down so you don't miss it!
Swedish Christmas Books for Kids
Christmas is a wonderful time of year in Sweden, get into the spirit with some of my favorite books!
Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
This is my Christmas must-read book. Join friends Lisa, Britta, Anna, Karl, Olaf, Kiersten and Bill during the holiday season as they cut down a Christmas tree, get flour all over the kitchen while making pig-shaped cookies, wrap presents with candle wax and travel to church in the pitch black cold morning. Sounds like fun doesn't it? All my dreams would come true if I could just live in a quaint little Swedish village.
The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits by Ulf Stark
This book is separated into 24 short chapters, with marvelous illustrations. One story is read on each day of advent. Grump the tomte is waiting for Yule (Christmas) when all of a sudden a wind blows his mittens and hat away and into the hands of a couple of rabbits. The rabbits are delighted with their strange gifts but the tomte worries he won't be able to bring Christmas to the forest without the necessary garments. A wonderfully delightful story. Also available: The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits.
Tomten Tales by Astrid Lindgren
This volume contains two of Lindgren's splendid classics. The first story, The Tomten, is a book that should be on every child's Christmas bookshelf. Across Scandinavia, gnome-like creatures called tomten watch over farms while the humans sleep. They are quiet and strong and talk to the animals, comforting them during the cold winter nights. In the second story, The Tomten and the Fox, A solitary fox is hungry and the hens look tasty. The watchful, protective farm tomten shares his dinner with the hungry creature in this gentle companion book to The Tomten.
MORE: Tomten books for kids
Findus at Christmas by Sven Nordquist
Norquist has written a number of well-loved picture books about Petterson and his cat, Findus. In this installment Petterson injures himself just before Christmas, but his friends join together for a wonderful celebration.
A Calf for Christmas by Astrid Lindgren
This is a more text-heavy story than the other picture books on this list, making it a great choice for older kids and Marit Törnqvist's illustrations are simply irresistible. Johan is heartbroken when his cow, Emma dies just before Christmas. His family is too poor to buy another, but not to worry, this is a Christmas story and a charming, happy ending is obligatory.
The Tomtes' Christmas Porridge by Sven Nordquist
Contemporary Swedish writer Sven Norquist penned this funny little story about a tomte family who looks forward to the rice pudding their master gives them at Christmastime. A great book to read alongside Lindgren's The Tomten classic and compare and contrast how tomten are represented.
St. Lucia Day Picture Books
St. Lucia Day falls on December 13 and is a celebration of light. Swedes celebrate with festivities and special treats.
Lucia and the Light by Florence Ekstrand
This book is actually not about St. Lucia or her namesake holiday, but it fits right into the festivities. One winter, when the sun disappears, the intrepid Lucia sets out to free the sun, held hostage by a group of trolls. A wonderful story about a courageous and clever young girl whose commitment and love for her family help her succeed in her quest. Gorgeously illustrated by Mary GrandPré, whom you might recognize as the illustrator of the US Harry Potter book covers.
Lucia Child of Light by Florence Ekstrand
This is a good book for exploring how modern day religious and secular traditions evolved from pagan folklore, legends and celebrations. The book also includes recipes, activities and tips for celebrating St. Lucia Day.
Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Petterson
This story of a young Swedish girl who must get used to the idea of Christmas in her new American home was originally written for the Hanna Andersson catalog. With the help of a tomten, Hanna realizes her new home may not be so bad after all and puts together a St. Lucia Day celebration for her parents.
Very Swedish Winter Picture Books
Winter is long in the north! But make the most of it with these fun winter picture books.
Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow
Ollie goes off on a ski-trip where he has adventures with Jack Frost, Mrs. Snow and King Winter. Add in a snowball fight, lots of children and a few reindeer and you have a perfect winter picture book. To say that Beskow's illustrations are delightful would be a gross understatement.
Boo and Baa in Windy Weather by Olaf and Lena Landström
This is my second favorite book on this list and will not be easy to find, but if your library has a copy or you can find a used book you are so, so, so lucky. The Landströms' trademark dry Swedish humor, a pair of sheep in a snow storm, a runaway cabbage and a comforting bowl of soup will make this book one your all-time winter favorites.