Scandinavian Christmas Books for Children
The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits
by Ulf Stark and Eva Eriksson
This is my favorite book to recommend for Christmas! The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits is a sweet story about a grouchy tomte — a kind of a woodland sprite — and the animals who become his friends. Tomte are common in Scandinavian lore. In Norway they are generally called “nisse.” Nisse and tomte generally live on farms and dwell somewhere between the human and animal worlds.
Stark and Eriksson weave a beautiful story about the Yule Tomte, some frisky bunnies, and the coming of Christmas. The story unfolds over 25 chapters — one for each day of December until Christmas Day.
While this book has general thematic ideas of love and friendship and stewardship of nature, it is not overtly religious. Rather it is a sweet Advent calendar of stories — one which you’ll want to read every year.
For twenty-five nights in December, The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits is the last thing we read before Bambino goes to bed — and it always means sweet dreams for our own little nisse.
Note: if you love this book, you will also love the sequel, The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits, too!
Lucia Morning in Sweden
By Ewa Rydaker and Carina Stahberg
The Feast of Santa Lucia is important all across Scandinavia, and while this book is based in Sweden, it represents many of the most common traditions for December 13 — the Feast of Santa Lucia (or Sankta Lucia in Norwegian). The Svensson family bake Lussekatter (Lucia buns flavored with saffron) and Pepparkakor (ginger snaps) and then take them to their friends and family dressed in the traditional crown of candles and Star Boy attire.
For our family this story is a wonderful reminder of why we celebrate Lucia’s feast day, and while the story can plod a big (we often edit it a bit), Bambino loves the illustrations, and now that he has been a Star Boy for several years, he relishes the part.
Astrid Lindgren, one of Sweden’s most celebrated authors, is most famous for penning the Pippi Longstocking books. However, she also wrote many other children’s books — three of which have found their way into our library.
Little Tomte’s Christmas Wish by Inkeri Karvonen and Hannu Taina is a Finnish book in the same vein, and it is a sweet story of friendship and giving which may inspire lovely conversations about gift giving with your own children.