Heading to the library in Sweden…expect some fun.
I’ve always loved excursions to the library. Being surrounded by books and all that knowledge—stacked up high to the ceiling, ready at one’s fingertips—feels like a kind of security for me, like somehow all of life’s questions could be answered on those pages.
As a kid, I remember my mom driving my brother and I to Schlow, our library in downtown State College. We’d bring along used grocery bags and load them full of books for the weeks ahead. Sundays, after church, my mom would read to us. A chapter and a half in, it was almost guaranteed, she’d start to dose. Keep going, we’d nudge her. Now, after becoming a mom myself, I understand why my poor mother was so tired. (Thank you mom for reading to us.)
Our community also had a bookmobile, a traveling van that offered library services to people on the outskirts of town. Once in a while I’d spot the white van driving along the highway and wish I lived somewhere far too, so I could climb aboard the air-conditioned vehicle and browse for books–I thought that would be the coolest thing ever.
Living overseas for so many years, without access to American libraries, I have gradually built up a collection of my own, friends really, that we couldn’t live without. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, Their Eyes Were Watching God, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Ender’s Game, anything by John Grisham, Goodnight Moon, Harry the Dirty Dog, Pinkerella, the list goes on and on…
But here in Sweden, I’m happy to say, I’ve rekindled my love for visiting the library thanks to their many Bibliotek (libraries). While none of them have a great selection of English books for kids, they do have something else to offer…FUN! At the Stocksund Library, near to where we live, every other Wednesday they have a free craft night. Maggie and I have made origami tulips, macramé bracelets and animals out of polymer, just to name a few. Tuesdays the librarian hosts an English story time for youngsters, followed by a free snack–juice boxes and Pepperkocker (yummy Swedish gingerbread cookies).
The Stocksund library also has lots of dress-ups—costumes ranging from princess attire to pirate gear and swords. I love the idea of children getting into character “literally.” There’s a large mirror where they can admire themselves and opposite that is a chalkboard with colored chalks. For older kiddos, there’s a room filled with teen appropriate titles, a foosball table, and beanbags. It’s light, colorful, and if I were a teen, exactly where I’d want to hang.
Next door to the library is an ICA grocery store so when we visit the library we also take home some of the best fresh rolls you can buy. It’s not the same experience as when I was kid, taking my kids to the library, but then again back when I was young, none of us were reading books on our phones or ipads. Times have changed, but it’s nice to know there are libraries maintaining a sense of community and offering more than just books, they’re giving us a place to call one’s own.