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The Swenson Center offers fun learning opportunities for students of all ages! We offer Swedish language classes, craft workshops, and a Nordic Book Club. Learn more by expanding the sections on this page, or by following the events section on our Facebook page.   

Language students

Swedish Language Classes

Want to learn Swedish online? We offer classes designed for community members to learn the Swedish language. Classes meet once a week for 60 minutes over 6 weeks. Students will learn skills in reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking. Classes are taught by Dr. Kimberly La Palm.

​Classes are held virtually. Students will need a computer with a microphone, speakers and camera, internet access, and a Zoom account. Classes will use the workbook Basic Swedish: A Grammar and Workbook by Ian Hinchliffe and Philip Holmes.

​Enrollment is set at a minimum of 5 students and a maximum of 20. Tell your friends! If classes don’t make enrollment they will be canceled. 

Spring 2021 Classes

Swedish 1
This class is designed for those completely new to Swedish!
Wednesdays, 5:00-6:00 p.m. Central
Cost: $115 Swenson Center member/$135 nonmember 

Next class: Fall 2021 (tentatively scheduled for November 3, 10, 17, 24, December 1, and 8)
Stay tuned for sign-up information!

Swedish 2
This class is designed for those who took Swedish 1 with us already, or those who have some very basic knowledge of Swedish and want to build on those skills. 
Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00pm Central
Cost: $115 Swenson Center member/$135 nonmember 

Next class: Fall 2021 (tentatively scheduled for September 15, 22, 29, October 6, 13, and 20)
Stay tuned for sign-up information! 

Swedish 3
This class is designed for those who took Swedish 1-2 with us already, or those who have some knowledge of Swedish and want to build on those skills. 
Time: Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00pm Central
Cost: $115 Swenson Center member/$135 nonmember 

Next class: Summer 2021 (June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, and July 7)
Register here by June 1!

Swedish 4
This class is designed for those who took Swedish 1-3 with us already, or those who have some knowledge of Swedish and want to build on those skills. 
Time: Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00pm Central
Cost: $115 Swenson Center member/$135 nonmember 

Next class: Summer 2021 (July 21, 28, August 4, 11, 18, and 25)
Register here by July 20!

Registration, Confirmation, Cancelations

Register for classes online. Registration is confirmed upon receipt of payment. Students will be notified if the class is canceled and will receive a full refund. If you need to cancel your registration you need to do so at least 7 days in advance of the beginning of class and you will receive a refund minus a $15 processing fee. If you cancel within 7 days of the start of class or after the class has begun you will not receive a refund. 

Note: These classes are different than the Swedish language classes offered for Augustana College students, but may be taught by the same faculty members. Augie students are welcome to sign up for the Swenson Center language classes, but they will not receive college credit and this class will not count toward the college language requirement. 


Book Club

Nordic Book Club is Virtual!

Read books on Nordic topics or by Nordic authors and participate in a guided discussion with other readers. 

We often try to pick titles available in both Swedish and English, with the discussion in English. This is a great option for advanced Swedish language learners to continue practicing their Swedish reading skills. Non-Swedish language learners are welcome to read the title in English!

Didn't have time to finish the book? We get it. Join us anyway to get inspired to finish the book! 

Facilitator: Lisa Huntsha, Swenson Center archivist/librarian
Date & Time: Second Tuesday of the month, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Central 
Location: Virtual via Zoom
Cost: Free for Swenson Center members and Augie students/$10 nonmember

Register today!

Upcoming Titles


The Helios Disaster by Linda Bostrom Knausgaard, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, 2020

This modern spin on the myth of Athena plunges us deep inside the mind of an unlikely twelve-year-old goddess confined to a small Swedish town. Separated from her father just moments after bursting from his skull in full armor, Anna is packed off into foster care where she learns to ski, speaks in tongues, and negotiates the needs of a quirky cast of relatives. Unable to overcome her father’s absence, however, she finally succumbs to depression and is institutionalized. Anna’s rallying war cry rings out across the pages of this concise and piercing novel as a passionate appeal for belonging taken to its emotional extreme.


Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Malena Ernman and Beata Ernman, 2020


Gnarr! How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World by Jón Gnarr, 2014

Past Titles


By the Fire coverBy The Fire: Sami Folktales and Legends, Emilie Demant Hatt (compiler), 2019

Although versions of tales about wizards and magical reindeer from northern Scandinavia are found in European folk and fairytale collections, stories told by the indigenous Nordic Sami themselves are rare in English translation. Between 1907 and 1916 Danish artist and ethnographer Emilie Demant Hatt recorded tales of magic animals, otherworldly girls who marry Sami men, and cannibalistic ogres or Stallos. Many of her storytellers were women, and the memorable tales included in this collection tell of plucky girls and women who outfox their attackers (whether Russian bandits, mysterious Dog-Turks, or Swedish farmers) and save their people. By the Fire, first published in Danish in 1922, features Demant Hatt’s original linoleum prints, incorporating and transforming her visual memories of Sápmi in a style influenced by the northern European Expressionists after World War I.


The Wonderful Adventures of NilsThe Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

"Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909 -- the first woman to be so honored -- Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) was a gifted storyteller whose writings were often tinged with the supernatural and rooted in the sagas and legends of her homeland. She secured her reputation as a children's-book author with The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, long considered a masterpiece of children's literature. Written at the request of Swedish school authorities and first published in 1906, it is the enchanting and remarkably original tale of Nils Holgersson, a mischievous boy of 14 who is changed by an elf into a tiny being able to understand the speech of birds and animals." -from


LindgrenAstrid Lindgren: The Woman Behind Pippi Longstockingby Jens Andersen, translated by Caroline Waight, 2018

"The first English-language biography of Astrid Lindgren provides a moving and revealing portrait of the beloved Scandinavian literary icon whose adventures of Pippi Longstocking have influenced generations of young readers all over the world. Lindgren's sometimes turbulent life as an unwed teenage mother, outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children, and celebrated editor and author is chronicled in fascinating detail by Jens Andersen, one of Denmark's most popular biographers."

Cows on Ice coverFebruary 

Cows on Ice and Owls in the Bog: The Weird and Wonderful World of Scandinavian Sayings by Katarina Montnémery, 2019

"This witty, enlightening book will give you 50 phrases you never knew you needed in your life, explaining their origin and literal translations, with fun color illustrations throughout." -- Amazon

myths coverJanuary

Myths of the Rune Stone: Viking Martyrs and the Birthplace of America by David M. Krueger, 2015. 

"In 1898, a Swedish immigrant farmer claimed to have discovered a large rock with writing carved into its surface in a field near Kensington, Minnesota. The writing told a North American origin story, predating Christopher Columbus’s exploration, in which Viking missionaries reached what is now Minnesota in 1362 only to be massacred by Indians. The tale’s credibility was quickly challenged and ultimately undermined by experts, but the myth took hold." --from Amazon


Scandinavian Christmas bookA Very Scandinavian Christmas: The Greatest Nordic Holiday Stories of all Time compiled by New Vessel Press. 

"This collection brings together the best Scandinavian holiday stories including classics by Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark; Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, August Strindberg and Hjalmar Söderberg of Sweden; as well as the popular contemporary Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. These Nordic tales—coming from the very region where so much of traditional Christmas imagery originates—convey a festive and contemplative spirit laden with lingonberries, elks, gnomes, Sami trolls, candles, church spires, gingerbread, and aquavit in abundance." --from Amazon

Book Club meeting: December 8, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Central

Anxious PeopleNovember

Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrick Backman. 

"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and “writer of astonishing depth” (The Washington Times) comes a poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined." --from Amazon

Book Club meeting: November 10, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Central

Death CleaningOctober

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson.

"A charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life. In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, meaning 'death' and städning meaning 'cleaning.'" --from Amazon

Book Club meeting: October 13, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Central 

book coverSeptember

The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

"A larger-than-life old man with a fondness for vodka goes on an unexpected adventure in this whimsical novel -- perfect for fans of Forrest Gump and A Man Called Ove." --from Amazon


A Drop of Midnight by Jason Diakité -- with visit from the author! 

A drop of midnight cover"World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history—from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden." --from Amazon

Book Club meeting: August 25, 2020, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Central Time (note new date & time). 


Swedish Chicago: The Shaping of an Immigrant Community, 1880-1920 by Anita Olson Gustafson. 

"Between 1880 and 1920, emigration from Sweden to Chicago soared, and the city itself grew remarkably…Chicago influenced these Swedes' lives in profound ways, Swedish Chicagodetermining the types of jobs they would find, the variety of people they would encounter, and the locations of their neighborhoods…This engaging study will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in immigration and Swedish-American history." --excerpt from Goodreads


Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman, translated by Alice Menzies (Swedish title Saker min son behöver veta om världen)

Things my son cover"The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove shares an irresistible and moving collection of heartfelt, humorous essays about fatherhood, providing his newborn son with the perspective and tools he’ll need to make his way in the world." --from Amazon


Canceled due to COVID-19. 


Canceled due to COVID-19.

Nearly Normal bookMarch 

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles (Swedish title En helt vanlig familj)

"M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another." --from Goodreads


Swede HollowSwede Hollow: A Novel by Ola Larsmo, translated by Tiina Nunnally (Swedish title Swede Hollow)

"A riveting family saga immersed in the gritty, dark side of Swedish immigrant life in America in the early twentieth century" --from Goodreads


Craft classes

Crafts Classes

Stay tuned!

Family Tree

Genealogy Classes

Postponed until 2022

Sept. 26, 2021, all-day, Cost: TBD

We welcome the return of the popular SwedGenTour, a group of professional genealogists from Sweden who will give lectures on Swedish genealogy and searching records. The group will also perform one-on-one lookups for participants. Schedule will follow. Pre-registration will be required. 

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