Nordic Literature Week invites readers to reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the world and to find their place in the world

Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Nordic Literature Week poster 2021

This year Nordic Literature Week takes place on November 9th to 15th and invites children, youngsters, and adults to reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the world and to find their place in the world. Part of our Nordic heritage is to be explorers and we can find traces of northerners in countless places in the world. Everything from historical finds from a long-gone Viking era to the Nordic cultural heritage of major or minor emigrant movements.

We are 8 billion people on earth and together we form our world. Despite our geographical and national borders, we can move almost anywhere in the world, from our homes and the close to the strange and unknown. The trips can be short or long, time-bound, or permanent. The world may feel infinitely large or quite small, but one thing is certain - all 8 billion people live and create their unique world and everyone carries their unique history.

Seeing the world through literature

Reading is a great opportunity to travel and experience the world. In literature, we can marvel at unknown places, recognize places where we have been, and discover differences and similarities with our own culture and everyday life. Through literature and with our imagination we can move countless miles away without leaving our own home. It is almost as if we are there with the author - we see and hear, smell, explore, and learn. And often we get a good laugh or shed some tears along the way.

The world in this year's reading books

This year's reading books sparkle with life and ask big questions about life and death, privileges, rights, and responsibilities in the world. The books describe human characteristics that both unite us and, at the same time, separate us from each other and making us individuals. All the chosen read-aloud books this year have won a Nordic Council Literature Prize. We hope that the books will generate engagement amongst their audience and inspire organizers to carry out further activities in connection to the read-aloud events. 

The youngest participants will read the last year's winner of the Nordic Council Children's and Youth Literature Prize: Everybody counts by Kristin Roskifte (Norway). The title carries a beautiful duplicity as it is both a counting book and a mediation that everybody is valued. Roskifte celebrates the spectrum of individuals shown in the book and the world that we all are a part of.

The teens will join the adventure in The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius (Sweden). The novel won the Nordic Council Children's and Youth Literature Prize in 2015 and is a continuation of the acclaimed book: The Legend of Sally Jones. In The Murderer's Ape, we follow Sally Jones, who gets stranded in Portugal's capital Lisbon. During her journey, we will find both kindness and cruelty in the fight to help Sally Jones' best friend, the Finnish sea-captain Henry Koskela.

The adults will read a part of the novel Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (Iceland). The novel won the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2018 and is a story of how both an inner and an outer world can collapse and be rebuilt. In the book, we follow Jónas Ebeneser, a middle-aged man with a heavy mind and who is filled with resignation. He decides to leave his home in Iceland and travel to a war-torn country with one purpose: he will end his life. He gives himself seven days to succeed, and during this time, he discovers things he did not know about his own, and others', scarred past.


Read more about Nordic Literature Week

Sign up to participate


The Nordic Literature Week is a read aloud event, where the same Nordic literature related to a chosen theme is read out loud at the same time across the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as other Nordic institutions around the world. The Nordic Literature Week itself takes place in mid-November, and that week's Monday is the Big Reading Aloud Day, where places such as libraries, schools and other cultural institutions arrange readings for children and youth in the mornings and for adults in the evenings. The project is managed by The Confederation of Nordic Associations, an NGO that works for Nordic co-operation, and financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Newsletter sign up

  • news
  • events
  • funding deadlines
  • recent publications