Discover the joy of literature with Alfie Atkins
TEXT: PIA PETERSSON | PHOTOS © BEATRICE TÖRNROS
A house full of fun, interactivity and curiosity, Alfons Åbergs Kulturhus (Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre) also has a more serious, honourable ambition – to be a champion of reading and early learning. And so Alfie Atkins acts as a helpful, inquisitive and friendly companion during a child’s journey towards discovering the wonderful world of literature.
“Children who are introduced to books, reading and acting early in life have a greater chance of developing a lifelong relationship with literature,” begins CEO Anna Forsgren. The vision of this creative cultural centre is to make all children relax and feel at home. “One of the major societal challenges today is exclusion, be it as a result of disability, social status or language. We want to help, simply by aspiring to be as inclusive as possible,” Forsgren explains.
Author Gunilla Bergström writes and also illustrates the books about Alfie Atkins – or Alfons Åberg, as the Swedish original is called – and is known for her remarkable ability to capture everyday drama and common problems. “Alfie isn’t big, strong and brave – he’s just like us,” Forsgren says. The universal issues facing Alfie and his dad engage children and adults alike. Perhaps this is why the books have never gone out of print in Sweden, ever since they were first published in 1972. Due to the humanity, curiosity and happiness permeating these stories, they clearly have a universal appeal. It is no wonder, then, that this mischievous little chap and his kind-hearted dad have charmed readers all over the world; the books have been translated into 30 languages.
At this lively cultural centre, familiar milieus and characters from the world of Alfie Atkins, such as his recognisable flat, the marvellous helicopter and the scary monster, greet children and their accompanying adults. There is always something going on and at least two different theatre performances are presented daily. In addition, there is also storytelling, singing and much more. “We also regularly offer sign language interpreted performances,” Forsgren adds. Of course, there is a quirky café in which children and adults can relax after a long day of playing and learning.
“We have an important role as a playful social actor, and we aspire to live up to the good values Alfie Atkins stands for. We want to contribute to children’s development through playing and learning. That’s how we can make a difference together,” Forsgren concludes.