What We Read

This collaborative space houses a number of testimonials, detailing what Ukrainian people have read in their childhoods. If you would like to contribute, please follow this link: https://forms.microsoft.com/r/h23FHwZttW.

Anonymous, 44, London: When I was growing up, I used to hear lots of folktales from my grandmother, and especially I liked Franko’s Koly She Zviri Hovoryly about the animals. I read my children translated folktales from my memory – they do not understand Ukrainian too well!

Nikita, U12, Kharkiv: Enjoys reading Teodory Iz Vasjukovki. Has been relocated since the start of the war outside of Ukraine, and this copy has been left in Kharkiv.

Anastasiia, 13, Kiev: I was introduced to Ukrainian folklore in my youngest childhood. My first year in this world sounded like my mother’s lullabies, my first steps sounded like funny Ukrainian childish songs and my first words were also about folklore. As I got older, my interests changed, however reading was the only one to always stay. If I was 9, I’d recommend you read Charodii or Charodin. If I was 11, then Akademii Amaterasu. Recently, due to all the bad things happening in my country, I understood how crucial it is to learn about my culture. So, you can probably see me reading classic books. Because through all the imagined worlds, authors show their real lives in those times. But all these difficult books sometimes make my mind blow, so I read funny comedies as a solution. I highly recommend Good Omens and other Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman books for this. That was all my reading experience so far, and it will definitely be continued. 

Miron, 9, Cherkas: His favourite book is Chudesnoe puteshestvie Nil’sa s dikimi gusjami. His favourite character is the baddie, the fox, because he is cunning and funny. He bought the book in Estonia.

Polina, 10, Kiev:

Ira, 10, Cherkasy: 

Annie Herington, 19, Newcastle: I do not think I can mention the Ukrainian books I have read without mentioning The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko which is a book that weaves together so much of contemporary Ukrainian history that I think everyone should read.

As for children’s books, I found myself fascinated by Ukrainian folktales for children where the protagonists tend to be animals like wolves and foxes. My favourite of which is called Pan Kotsky (appears in The Magic Egg and Other Tales from Ukraine retold by Barbara J. Suwyn) which features an ordinary house cat who outsmarts all the wild animals into believing he is the fiercest of them all while spending most of the story napping at home. Best of all, the most common moral of these animal-led tales for children is that the reader should be as clever as the fox, as loyal as the wolf, or as cunning as the common house cat. 

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