Discovering Best Books for Children

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Love for reading is something I always looked forward  to share with my little crew. The warmest memories from my childhood are the ones where I scavenged my grandparents impressive library for the most interesting book, often landing myself an encyclopedia that captured my - then little - mind for hours. Even when able to read by myself, I cherished the moments when my mom would sit by my side and read some chapters from a book that was currently under my pillow.

Reading is an adventure that doesn't require any travel, hotels or fine dining. It's a school that can teach the most important lessons and way to transform a little corner of the room into the most magical place. I am thrilled that my little team loves to turn paper pages just the same way I did, even though the digital world they live in is so different from the simple ( as it appears to be now) world I knew as a child.

Among the many children's books and authors, there are some that have a special place in my heart that you may love too. Let's talk a little more about Astrid Lindgren, an author of the well-known Pippi Longstocking series among many others.

astridAstrid Anna Emilia Lindgren (born Ericsson) ( November 1907 – 28 January 2002) was a Swedish writer of fiction and screenplays. As of May 2013, she is the world's 18th most translated author and has sold roughly 144 million books worldwide.

Astrid Lindgren grew up shortly after the turn of the Century at the Näs homestead near Vimmerby, in the county of Småland. Her childhood is a happy time, with the love of her parents providing her constant security. Astrid and her three siblings enjoyed their games in the fantastic playground the Näs property provides. But their days consisted of other things too, besides playing. All available labour was needed on a farm, and the Ericsson children shared the toil with the maids and farmhands. One of the farmhands had a daughter called Edit. It is in her kitchen that Astrid hears the fairytale which begins to awaken her hunger for books – a passion that lasted a lifetime.

At school, Astrid was good at writing and after getting a composition published in the Vimmerby Times earns the nickname, Vimmerby’s Selma Lagerlöf. She later joined the paper in a voluntary capacity.

When the first book about Pippi Longstocking is published in 1945 by the publishing firm, Rabén & Sjögren, it changed Astrid’s life. The book becomes a great success, loved by children and grown-ups the world over.

A year or so later, Astrid Lindgren began her work as children’s book editor for Rabén & Sjögren and was soon made responsible for the publication of children’s books. She wrote her own books, in shorthand, sitting in her bed at home (in Dalagatan) until 11:30 in the mornings. In the afternoons she turned into Children’s Book Editor Lindgren which entailed meetings with authors and illustrators at the publishing house, proofing texts and making decisions about what to publish. She stayed with Rabén & Sjögren until her retirement in 1970.

Astrid changed from living the life of an ordinary housewife to a world famous author. With the fame came the fact that she often found herself in the spotlight whilst her private life was steadily diminishing – something she was not very comfortable with. In spite of this, she initiated a debate in 1976 about taxation policies and this contributed to the downfall of the Social Democratic government, after forty years in power.

This was the first time Astrid gets seriously involved in current affairs – but not the last. Two years later she received the German Book Traders’ Peace Prize and her speech at the award ceremony became the starting point for an international debate about the use of corporal punishment in child-raising. She took an active stand for the “No” side in the Swedish referendum concerning nuclear power in 1980. She also got involved in a campaign against unethical treatment of animals, which eventually resulted in new animal protection laws.

At the age of ninety-one, Astrid suffered a stroke and found it increasingly difficult to get around and appear in public. In January 2002 Astrid Lindgren passed away at her home in Dalagatan. The funeral was held on March 8th – International Women’s Day. The streets of Stockholm were crowded with people following the cortege through the city on its way to The Great Church, in Stockholm’s old town.

While many people know and love Astrid Lindgren's series of Pippi Longstocking ( which was invented for her daughter Karin to amuse her while she was ill and bed-ridden. Lindgren later related that Karin had suddenly said to her, "Tell me a story about Pippi Longstocking," and the tale was created in response to that remark ), my personal favorite series are from Karlson on the Roof, a story about a little boy and a little man with a propeller on his back that appeared hovering at the window. It's Karlson and he lives in a house on the roof. Soon the little boy and Karlson are sharing all sorts of adventures, from tackling thieves and playing tricks to looping the loop and running across the rooftops. Fun and chaos burst from these charming, classic stories, that still warm my heart as I read them to my own children and see the spark of delight as they follow along the adventures.

Some other A. Lindgren works that we highly recommend are "Mio, My son", "Ronia, the Robber's Daughter", "The Brothers Lionheart", "Lotta on the Troublemaker Street", "The Children on the Troublemaker Street", "Rasmus and the Vagabond" and, of course, the long list of Pippi series.

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