Kidlit destinations in Denmark

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It’s a while since we packed our bags and journeyed to some new kidlit destinations as part of Reading Round Europe, but today, finally we’re off once more. And our destination today? Denmark!

Let’s start with a visit to a brilliant, specialist children’s bookshop, Børnenes Boghandel, in Copenhagen

Photo: Arnold Busck

Børnenes Boghandel has been around for more than 30 years making it Denmark’s oldest children’s bookshop. Perhaps we shouldn’t start our journey here – I think we will be carrying heavy bags for the rest of our trip!

Later this year the Royal Castle Museum in Kolding (Koldinghus) is hosting an exhibition all about a much loved Danish author Ole Lund Kirkegaard. October sees the opening of “Boys Pranks“, a large-scale exhibition designed for families focussing on the author, his books and the universe he created. There will be displays of many of the original drawings, photos, manuscripts and paintings, which together tell the story of this talented Danish author, who died very young.

The Royal Castle Museum in Kolding. Photo: Friis Fotografi

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art hosts an annual literary festival, Louisiana Literature. This year’s festival takes place 1-4 September, and whilst the programme hasn’t yet been fully confirmed, there will be many events for children including performances by Hr. Skæg (Mr Beard), a much loved Danish character from books and TV.

Anyone with a professional interest in children’s literature might want to make time to visit The Centre for Children’s Literature (Center for børnelitteratur) is a special research unit at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University. The centre holds regular seminars, conferences and summerschools.

Now when it comes to children’s literature Denmark is most famous for the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and there are LOTS of places to visit if you’re interested in Andersen’s stories and life.

All over Denmark you can find “fairy tale tracks” – a nationwide labelling scheme of signs showing that “Andersen was here”. The aim of the scheme is to encourage exploration of the Danish countryside and Hans Christian Andersen at the same time.

Map of Andersen Fairy Tale Tracks - Click to be taken to original, interactive map

An overview of stops on the trail can be found here, but the detailed website of all “Andersen was here” sites can be found here. All the information is also available in a brochure which you can order for free here.

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense is one not to miss. “The museum exhibitions tell of the writer’s life, from his childhood years as the son of a poor shoemaker in Odense via the hard times he spent on his way towards realising his dreams in Copenhagen, his schooling, debut as a writer and career as an author, old age and death. You can follow the writer’s acquaintances, love life, artistic career and his many journeys.”

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum, main entrance

A particularly fun time to visit is the summer months when there are daily parades of many much loved Andersen characters. And for those of you who haven’t been able to pack your suitcases with us this time, there’s a virtual tour of the whole museum, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

Any trip to a museum with kids isn’t complete without a good look at the museum shop! They stock some lovely posters and toys, and they ship overseas :-)

Exploring a city on foot is really the best way to get a feel for it and the Golden Days tour in Copenhagen is brilliant for this – it’s an interactive tour through the HC Andersen’s life as well as the history of the city and includes quotes from the author read by Sir Derek Jacobi.

One sight in Copenhagen you can’t leave off any itinerary related to children’s literature is the Little Mermaid statue (Den lille havfrue in Danish). The Little Mermaid symbolizes the eponymous fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, in which a young mermaid falls in love with a prince who lives on land, and often comes to the edge of the water to look for her love.

Photo: jazonz

Have you visited any of these places? If you could go to any one of them, which one would you choose? Do you have a favourite edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales?

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9 Responses

  1. Wow, great writeup! I am so delighted with it, and your timing, since I’m living in Odense with kids this spring.

    I would add: the big central Hans Christian Anderson museum is great, but it’s apparently not definite that he was born there. His documented childhood home is just downhill from the Domkirke. It’s a very charming little two-room cottage museum, with their furnished rooms, and the other room full of period pictures and quotes about HCA, his life and times. The woman running it was very friendly, and gave us a nice tour in English, telling us how Hans used to talk to a neighbor girl out their little window, as happens in the beginning of the Snow Queen.

    The kids were very impressed by the idea of living and working in such a small space. They were also thrilled to be taken to a museum that takes less than half an hour to see! And if you walk downhill from there, you hit the river path and can walk to Munke Mose park and rent a swan boat, or an old wooden rowboat. Or just have ice cream and throw rocks in the river. Or both.

    Also, if you go into the Domkirke, HCA was christened there (big plaque on wall), and the skeleton of Saint Canute is down in the crypt.

    • Hi Sara,

      How great to have a “correspondent on the ground” :-) Thanks so much for your insider knowledge. Have *you* come across any great Danish picture books?

  2. Copenhagen is one of my favorite European cities, but since I went before I had kids, the only sight I’ve seen is the Little Mermaid statue. I am looking forward to your future posts so I can check out some Danish Children’s books.
    Storied Cities (Erica) recently posted..Wild City- When You Meet A Bear on Broadway

  3. Hi Erica, If you have any Danish picture books to suggest, I’d *really* love to hear from you about them…
    Zoe recently posted..Kidlit destinations in Denmark

  4. Lovely post, as always. I’ve long coveted a visit to Aarhus University’s Centre for Children’s Literature!
    Ali B recently posted..Fairies- Gods and Gadgets

  5. Hope you get to go one day soon, Ali!

  6. […] literature around the globe, the blog Playing by the Book offers this fantastic view of children’s literary destinations in Denmark.  That Little Mermaid statue is worth the price of the flight […]

  7. If you are in Odense with children don’t miss The Tinder-box (Fyrtøjet)
    Used to be my kids’ favourite place to go when visiting their Danish grandparents. Absolutely fabulous for children to explore the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen; storytelling, dance, songs, and art, and the children are not just watching, they are doing! Make-up, costumes, props, music instruments, paint, everything is available to them.

    http://www.hcandersen-homepage.dk/boernekulturhuset_fyrtoejet.htm

    http://www.fyrtoejet.com/html/index.htm

    • Thanks Helle for this wonderful tip! It looks like a really inspiring place to visit with the kids.

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