In high school I wasn’t very good at English. I struggled with grammar, which I still detest. I didn’t like the idea of memorizing rules that made no sense to me. It didn’t help that our teacher spoke Spanish or Catalan, either.
One day they gave us a book to read: “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell (I still remember). I absolutely loved it, and decided to read more books by myself.
Over time, my English got better and better. I managed to interiorize those rules instead of trying to memorize them. I know this can’t work for everyone, but if you like books and want to learn Swedish, this is the way to do it.
It’s important that you pick up a book that attracts your attention, that you want to read despite the possibility you won’t understand most of it.
While learning Swedish at SFI, I borrowed some children’s books from a friend and got some others from the library. The books I present bellow are from Scandinavian authors and are the ones I enjoyed the most.
Vem? – Stina Wirsén
Stina Wirsén is an illustrator and writer of children books. Her collection “Vem?” is for children between 0-3 years old (she also has a collection for children between 3-6 years in case you think it’s too easy).
Her stories are very simple and funny, her characters have a very unique style and personality. It’s also a TV series for Swedish television (SVT), if you want to check it out.
Pippi Långstrump – Astrid Lindgren
I couldn’t miss this world famous Swedish character created by Astrid Lindgren and illustrated by Ingrid Vang Nyman.
Did you know Lindgren came up with Pippi Långstrump when her daughter was sick and asked her mum to tell her a story?
The one I got “Här kommer Pippi Långstrump” is a good start if you have a basic-almost non existent Swedish. The TV show is also worth trying once you’ve achieved a certain level.
Hon & Han – Ann Gomér
These books require a bit more Swedish. Ann Gomér describes the everyday life of a couple, Ebba and Philip. The stories are short, always positive and can lead to a moral discussion. Like the one in the picture where the couple find a wallet in a park and decide to hand it to the police.
Ann thinks there are plenty of books describing drama and loneliness, she wants to give the reader a brighter sight of life.
The books come with a CD. I find this very useful, as most Swedish words are pronounced in a different way as you read them. What I did is read it out loud and then listen to the CD to correct my mistakes.
Mumin – Tove & Lars Jansson
Another famous Scandinavian character created by finish authors Tove and Lars Jansson. At first sight, it might look very childish, but they have far more text than the books I mention before, and more complex stories.
Moomin books talk about love, education, respect for each other, family bonding and personal freedom.
Mödrar och sönner – Theodor Kallifatides
I got this book from the library a month ago, feeling confident about my progression with Swedish (I’ve been studying it for 6 months). It’s an easy version of the real book of Kallifatides, a Swedish author born in Greece. It also comes with a CD.
Although I found it hard to read, I really enjoyed it, not just for the story itself, but also because the book repeated words and expressions, so I ended up memorizing them.
I checked the publisher’s webside, and found out they have lots of interesting easy-to-read books like Anna Frank’s Diary, a biography of Astrid Lindgren and The Great Gatsby.
Books can make our long run through learning Swedish interesting and amusing. You’ll not just learn a language but also acquire knowledge and a better understanding of Scandinavian culture.
If you have any other books to recommend, please share them with us 🙂