Summers are always so full. At our house the constant is reading. We read on our own, as a family, one on one, on the grass, in a hammock, and in bed. Undaunted by word count we tackle all kinds of books and are rarely disappointed. However, occasionally a book comes along that changes the shape of your soul and forms memories that are bound to last. This summer we found three.

The kids (boy age 8, girl age 5) and I have fallen head over heals for Scandinavian fiction. Compelled by our travels, good book covers, and a general theme around us these days we found ourselves immersed in a simple, magical summer read-a-thon enhanced by imagined sea breezes and real life (albeit miniature scale) seaside cottages.

I wouldn’t dare spoil a thing from these books but let me tell you a bit about our process so you might see where the magic has slipped in and perhaps replicate elements yourself in your own way.

Glassblower’s Children: By Maria Gripe

I grabbed this book one day just because. Occasionally (or rather quite frequently) taking home a book from work has made me quite popular. I didn’t hesitate because this book is part of series of books I have come to trust and respect. Relatively unknown the New York Review Children’s Collection is robust and full of books with moral spine and delightful character. They also happen to be hard bound with a red cloth spine which means they are well made, will last generations (assuming you don’t leave them in the grass to get soaked by the sprinklers in the morning…oops) and they look great on a shelf.

I also like reading about old craft and so I often find children’s books that have a weaver, a shipbuilder, or in this case a glassblower. So, author unknown, we opened up and started reading. I immediately was hooked by the description of the glassblower himself and his effort to sell his wares. The kids were hooked a few pages later, first by the little witch with a delightful name and her one-eyed raven.

Mysteries begin to unfold in a Hansel and Gretel-esque manner as adults and children learn lessons about gratitude, selflessness, the importance of preserving wishes and dreams, and optimism. Part of the magic came when we couldn’t put the book down at the end and stayed up hours past their bedtime and long past my own. That was the moment the memories were made. The book has a delightfully mysterious conclusion that enchanted my children.

Seacrow Island: By Astrid Lindgren

I don’t even know where to start. This book swept us away and we fell in love with the setting, the characters, the true to life magic simplicity. We joined the Melkerson family for a summer and more that we won’t quickly forget.

Parts of the book are taken directly from the 19-year-old daughter, Malin’s diary. There are chapters about the adults, the young children and the teenagers interwoven in a delightfully ageless way. We all laughed till we cried, and cried until we laughed. We loved meeting Tjorven, a native islander, and were excited any time she entered the scene. Astrid introduces Tjorven as the family first arrives on the island in a picturesque moment of anticipation.

It was pouring rain when the steamer arrived, and on the quay stood one solitary little person and a dog. This person was female and about seven years old. She stood absolutely still as if she had grown up out of the quay. The rain poured down on her but she did not move. It seemed almost as if God had made her as part of the island…and had put her there to be the ruler and guardian of the island to all eternity.”

We still talk about Tjorven a month or so later as a dear friend we spent a summer with. Toward the end of the book I remembered a Lincoln log-esque toy I had seen from France. It was a little Scandinavian summer cabin and I couldn’t help but get one to help us finish off the book and to keep a tangible memory of Seacrow Island. The kids built it as we finished the book’s last chapters. We brought a few into the store in case you want to follow suit. I highly recommend making the memories tangible.

I have made numerous people pause to read this book and all have left delighted. It is hard to find books that delight both parents and children and create links and connections for memories to form and be preserved. I hope by sharing our experience it will aid you in cultivating one that fits your family.

Mio My Son: By Astrid Lindgren

Another wonderful story that kept us all intrigued. For this one I may have been the one who enjoyed it most as a heartfelt and tender allegory of Jesus Christ. I learned things about the relationship between God and His Son that I hadn’t grasped before. I recommend it as a short read to extend imagination in the young and cultivate godliness in adults.

 

We believe in reading together as a family.

 

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Comments

Kalyn Cheney

Kalyn Cheney said:

I would like to enter the giveaway! I love the look and description of the books and would love to have one for myself. Thanks!

Nicole Morris

Nicole Morris said:

I love this. I used to read with my family every night. We would each choose a book from the library and dig in. I was always hesitant and eager to play instead but my parents were persistent which lead me to a life long live for reading. These memories with your kids are precious and truly important. Reading opens worlds!

I am really interested in these books you listed, they sound like great reads. I also really like this article/post. I felt like I was reading a story about a family and their summer memories. I think it’s so cool that your memories are shared adventures from a book. Keep posting these, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Christy Eastmond

Christy Eastmond said:

I enjoyed your article! My family loves to read in the summer too and I always value having reliable recommendations for good books for my kids! Thank you for the reviews!

Holly Brain

Holly Brain said:

Can’t wait to read these suggestions with my little boy. Reading together is our favorite time of day.

Bridget

Bridget said:

These books sound amazing! Thank you for sharing! I’m always looking for a good book I can add to our family collection and it sounds like I can’t go wrong with any of these!

Liz

Liz said:

Thanks for the review! These books sound delightful!

Rebecca Vipperman

Rebecca Vipperman said:

What a lovely review, thank you for sharing! I’m putting all of these books on our list for the future and that little cabin is the most darling. Love Heirloom!

Carolyn Fenn

Carolyn Fenn said:

Dear Heirloom, These books are exactly what I’m looking for as Christmas gifts for my grandchildren. And the Seamans Cottage is a
Must have. Please enter me in this wonderful giveaway. I don’t live in the area so could you send me your information for purchasing. Thank you!!

Shannon Hansen

Shannon Hansen said:

These books and the art that they are are exactly my bag- that I never knew existed… I want to get swept away too!!! I have not been a diligent family reading initiator, but I so mean to be. LOVE your article. Beautiful writing. I’ve been fantasizing at great length about scandinavian cabins…obsessing about the simple but complete beauty and lifestyle- would love to build one. Thanks’

Lisa Bell

Lisa Bell said:

What a fantastic giveaway! We’ve read Astrid Lindgren’s work to our children (they love Rona, Robber’s Daughter), but we’ve never stumbled upon Seacrow Island. All of these books sound like wonderful read-alouds, and I appreciate you sharing them. I can always count on your shop to introduce me to new treasures, whether they be books, toys, art, or lovely traditions.

Ceri steele

Ceri steele said:

It’s a struggle to find books that leave impressions on my younger children, much like the books my Father used to read to me. I’m excited to explorer these works. Thanks.

Ben

Ben said:

Thanks for the great reviews!!! My girls have been asking for more stories at night. Your description of the Glassblower’s Children made it sound like a great book for me to read to them.

Hillary

Hillary said:

Thanks for these fun summaries. I can’t wait to read these with my children. Your descriptions, bring back happy childhood memories of long Swedish summer nights.

Kim C

Kim C said:

Very much enjoyed the review! I wholeheartedly agree that reading a book with your kids can be such an endearing time together! It is amazing to me how some people can weave a picture with words and transport you right to that very spot! You can travel the world and time and never leave your own home! Love the review and unearthing hidden treasures for the rest of us to discover

Quinn Artigues

Quinn Artigues said:

I’m in love with these books! I was obsessed with Pippy Longstocking when I was a little girl, and now I read it to my little girls.
For Christmas every year we give our kids books that we’ve never read. So if we win this it would be awesome and to get the minimalist Scandinavian cabin….. so cute!! If we do t win I’ll buy the books I’m excited to read them to my kids and for myself.

Rebekah

Rebekah said:

What a great giveaway. I’m writing all these down, thanks for sharing

alexis reber

alexis reber said:

I read chapter books with my children every night. There is something about sitting in pjs listening to a story that builds strong bonds. You aren’t physically playing or busy with toys, but you are all on a journey together and that is magical.

Lisa Bell

Lisa Bell said:

What a lovely giveaway! We’ve enjoyed reading Astrid Lindgren’s books (especially Rona Robber’s Daughter) to our kids, and we would certainly love some new read-alouds. Your shop always has the loveliest treasures, whether books, art, toys, or wonderful new traditions to share.

MarySue

MarySue said:

You had me at “moral spine”! I have two young grandsons living with me and this is just the type of literature I want to surround them. Yes I’d love to win this book and cabin but I’m already a winner due to you reviews. Much thanks.

Kate Christensen

Kate Christensen said:

Books are the best! If you haven’t already you should also read Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, which is also by Astrid Lindgren.

Laurie

Laurie said:

The memories of reading to your children will bring you so much joy in years to come! I read to my own children and now as “Gigi” when I visit my grandchildren, a special book to share comes with me. I’ve read stories my grandmother read to me as well as new favorites! A love of reading connects generations and opens the world to our little ones. Thank you for sharing these treasures.

Shannon Hansen

Shannon Hansen said:

Thank you!!! I’m in total shock that I won your contest. The strange thing though is that this gift could not be more perfect for me! I can’t think of a single person in my life who would enjoy this more than I will : ) My biggest dream is to build a simple Scandinavian cottage for my family at the water’s edge somewhere- this will help me visualize and manifest my aspirations. I have two teenagers and two toddlers at home and my little ones have what seems to be an obsession with books. I confess that my routine is so busy that I usually leave the little ones to enjoy the books on their own. The time I have with my children is the most precious thing in the universe, and I’m always striving to do a little better- be more present with them, zero in on them and REALLY meet their needs on every level. I need family reading time to start happening for us and I have a feeling that Seacrow Island is going to open that up- just in time too as Fall hasn’t fully snared us yet. Thank you, thank you, thank you from all of us Hansens!

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