It wouldn't be Christmas without reading our favorite tomten books!
Inspired by Astrid Lindgren's, The Tomten, my kids and I just finished making a tomten garland for our annual Swedish-themed Christmas celebration. While the tomte is a prominent feature of Scandinavian Jul, he doesn't belong solely to the Christmas tradition.
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Take note! The tomte is NOT a Swedish Santa. He's not as capricious as an elf, and soon you'll be wishing your house had it's own bearded helper. These tomten books cover the entire year, from Spring to Christmas, so you'll never be without a helpful yet mischievous, friendly yet grumpy, folkloric house gnome!
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren. You cannot go wrong with this splendid classic. This lyrical picture book should be on every child’s bookshelf. Across Scandinavia 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.
The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren. 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.
Findus and the Christmas Tomte by Sven Nordquist. The Findus books are a popular series of Swedish children's stories. Pettson's talking cat, Findus is looking forward to a visit from the Yule Tomte. However, Pettson doesn't think the Yule Tomte visits cats. He doesn't want to disappoint Findus so he sets out to build a tomte himself! Funny and magical.
The Tomtes' Christmas Porridge by Sven Nordquist. Contemporary Swedish children's author, Sven Norquist, penned this funny little story about a tomte family who looks forward to the rice pudding their master gives them at Christmastime.
The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Christmas Story for Advent by Ulf Stark and Eva Ericksson. 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 his necessary garments. A wonderfully delightful story.
The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits, a companion book to the above selection is 21 chapters to read in June about how the rabbit children take shelter from a storm in Grump the tomte's cottage but still manage to celebrate with a wonderful Midsummer party.
MORE: Folktales from Scandinavia (Iceland, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark!)
Little Tomte's Christmas Wish by Inkeri Karvonen and Hannu Taina. Little Tomte is worried that Christmas won't come this winter. He comes up with a special way to prepare, making candles and lighting the forest in a magical way. The pictures in this one are especially fun to look through.
Winterfrost by Michelle Houts. (novel) A nisse is the Danish version of tomte. Families are supposed to leave the nisse a traditional bowl of Christmas pudding on the eve of the holiday, but this year, Bettina’s family is beset by troubles and they forget the pudding. In a fit of mischief, the local nisse, Klakke, steals the family baby! Bettina sets out into the woods to find her sister and encounters more mythological creatures and adventure in this tale of magic and kindness. Break out the pepparkakor because you will love this story.
Hedgie's Surprise by Jan Brett. Set in the summertime, the mischievous Tomten keeps stealing the hen's egg. Hedgie the hedgehog concocts an elaborate plot to finally convince Tomten to instead be satisfied with his mother's porridge.
The Tomtes of Hilltop Farm. Author Brenda Tyler has several books about tomte of Hilltop. Farmer Robinson has trouble with naughty farm animals and failing crops and has to put his farm up for sale. Children, Emily and Jamie and ask the local tomten to help them save the farm. Also see the companion book, The Tomtes of Hilltop Wood in which the tomte help Emily and Jamie save their home from road construction.
Are you confused by the words, tomte, tomten and tomtes? When translators or English speaking authors use the word, there seems to be no rule. In Swedish, tomte is singular and tomten is plural.