Finally, a Nordic bookworm!

Anna Hällgren and Amanda Audas Kass at the library stage at Gothenburg Book Fair 2021.

It’s marvellous and so exciting to be a piece of the puzzle and part of The Nordic Bookworm (Den nordiska bokslukaren) initiative, run by Nordic Culture Point. Amanda Audas-Kass from Finland, and me, Anna Hällgren from Sweden, had the privilege of presenting and promoting the work of The Nordic Bookworm at the Gothenburg book fair. There were many positive and eager conversations after our programme item. Several people emphasised that this is a much-anticipated and important venture that raises the profile of Nordic picture books. Librarians and educators said it would be especially valuable to have access to educational materials with different languages and levels of difficulty, as this is completely lacking right now. They also appreciate the fact that we now have the opportunity to promote the Nordic languages, read more Nordic picture books with children and young people, and develop skills and raise awareness around Nordic picture books.

What is The Nordic Bookworm? The Nordic Bookworm is an initiative to promote reading through the production of material, discussion questions, and information on around fifty Nordic picture books that have been nominated for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize. All the work is done digitally. This material can be used by educators, parents, library staff, recreational club staff, sports coaches… in fact, just about anyone who comes across children aged 3 to 12. The material can also be used by adults who want some inspiration in their discovery and reading of Nordic picture books as it lowers the threshold for reading books in other Nordic languages. Everything will be available in the five major languages: Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic. Some material will also be available in Greenlandic, Faroese, and North Sami.

For me, this is a timely venture and an opportunity to get people reading in more languages than their mother tongue. It also helps people find out that it’s very easy to read the other Nordic languages. I’m fascinated every time I see something in Greenlandic, can read something in Danish, or understand a few sentences in Icelandic or Faroese, and then to think about the differences as well as the similarities between the Nordic languages.

As a librarian and reading enthusiast, The Nordic Bookworm gives me an insight into current children’s book publishing in the Nordic Region, and who has been nominated for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize. It also gives me unique reading experiences and knowledge about other countries and the “pearls” of the different language areas. What’s more, it shows me how multifaceted and interesting Nordic children’s book publishing really is. It makes it easier for me in my profession to offer tips on, to promote, and to procure these Nordic picture books. In this regard, I think The Nordic Bookworm gives all educators an opportunity to be inspired to work with Nordic picture books and languages in preschools and schools. And this is exactly what curricula in other countries emphasise.

What’s more, this is important, given that this venture promotes cross-sectoral professional collaboration in the Nordic Region. Together, we are a group from across the Nordic Region that’s working to produce the material for The Nordic Bookworm. We’re a fun mix of educators, librarians, picture book experts, illustrators, authors, reading ambassadors, and reading promoters. We also work across languages and national borders, which broadens and raises the quality of the material.

I hope and believe that this will result in us creating many, many more Nordic bookworms!

Anna Hällgren
is Swedish member of The Nordic Bookworm’s working group and librarian, reading promoter, and administrator for the Swedish Arts Council.

The material will be available to everyone for free at from January 2022. You can already visit the site and read more about the initiative. You can also follow work relating to The Nordic Bookworm via the Instagram account @nordiskabokslukaren.

For anyone who’s interested, The Nordic Bookworm discussion is available to watch on Book Fair Play until the end of the year.