With millions of Ukrainians now sadly seeking refuge in other European nations, Mediabrands Content Studio has created a free Ukrainian-language children’s book called ‘Welcome to Denmark
’ introducing incoming parents and children to the country while also highlighting the nations’ cultural similarities.
Independently launched to support the people of Ukraine and to help the new refugees feel more at ease, the book is a welcome guide with information about Denmark. Written to a reading level of age three to five and up, with colourful illustrations, it’s based on a well-known Danish format of children’s books called pixi-books – a small picture book with a simple, short story.
At the same time, it acts as a mini-phrasebook that can make it easier to make acquaintances and understand the many new things new arrivals in Denmark might encounter.
With Denmark already having taken in thousands of refugees, the team at Mediabrands Content Studio
contributed the best way they know how – through content. “We wanted to make a difference for the refugees by using our communication skills. We wanted to actively do something,” says Nordic managing director, Christian Strand.
“We discussed what situation the refugees were in and tried to put ourselves in their place as best we could, and then brainstormed about how we could shine a light in the darkness of their situation. We wanted to make a gesture that showed these refugees that they were welcome in our country and that we cared. We wanted them to get off to a good start in Denmark. We wanted them to feel that life in Denmark was not that different from the one they knew in Ukraine, which is a natural feeling when you leave everything behind, flee your country and don’t know where you’ll end up living.”
The format of a pixi-book seemed the most appropriate way to do that. “It had to be something that didn’t burden them, and they could easily bring along on their journey,” says Christian. The format of a small children's book was perfect for this. They also reasoned that a children’s book could reach both parents and children, as many parents would probably read the book to their children. It could be something to read to pass the time and the phrasebook could help them communicate with Danish children. “The message of welcome was, of course, for both children and adults,” adds Christian.
In under a week, Mediabrands Content Studio conceived of and created the book, connecting with an early-arriving Ukrainian refugee to help with the translation.
With the help of Mediaprint, a company specialising in graphical production (who work in the same building as Mediabrands Content Studio), the agency printed 20,000 copies and then posted about the book’s availability across its social channels, hoping people or organisations might be able to use them.
Seventy-two hours later, all 20,000 copies were distributed. The office soon became inundated with requests and queries coming from Danish train, bus, and ferry companies who wanted to give the books to newly arriving Ukrainian passengers. Danish postal services helped with free postage for the first 300 packages. The project even made Danish national news and in a show of solidarity, clients and even agency competitors are promoting it.
Above: coverage on Danish TV
The reaction has been overwhelming, says Christian, who says that the initial post has now reached more than 800,000 people organically out of a population of 6 million.
To date, 43,000 copies have been distributed. A digital version of the book is available to download for free
Mediabrands Content Studio has also begun a cooperation with the Red Cross which is distributing the books through the asylum system. Meanwhile, the official numbers for expected refugees in Denmark have risen to 100,000.
Above: Mothers and children with the book
Read the English translation of the book below.
What is Denmark?
Denmark is a small kingdom with only 5.8 million inhabitants, located approx. 1,250 km from Ukraine. Although we are the oldest kingdom in the world, we have no king. Our queen is Her Majesty Margrethe the second, but she does not decide so much. In Denmark, we all decide equally, and therefore there is room to be exactly who you want to be. Welcome!
We have much in common
The trip to Denmark may feel long, but Denmark is not too far from Ukraine. Neither in distance nor in spirit. In fact, there are as many as three Ukrainian princesses who have been married to Danish kings and princes, and the capital of Ukraine is as old as Lejre - one of Denmark's largest Viking cities. There were also many Danes who moved to Ukraine in the Viking Age.
Maybe you already know something from Denmark. LEGO bricks come from here, and H.C. Andersen, who wrote fairy tales such as ‘The Emperor's New Clothes’, ‘The Torch’, ‘The Ugly Duckling’ and ’The Little Mermaid’.
Denmark is a small country
In Denmark there are no mountains or large forests. The whole country is flat as a pancake. The highest point in Denmark is only 172 metres high, and because here there are neither steep nor large distances to cross, there are many who cycle in Denmark. In Denmark, we are very proud of our coasts. It is our wilderness, and although we are a very small country, we have the 16th longest coastline in the world. No matter where you are in Denmark, you are never more than 52km from the sea, and everyone has the right to be on the beaches and swim in the water.
We also have many small forests that are completely light green in the spring. Everyone must be there. In many places there are campfires and shelters that you are welcome to use. And you are welcome to take firewood from the forest floor.
Children in Denmark
There are many children living in Denmark, and we take good care of each other. Children in Denmark go to kindergarten if they are under six, and to school if they are over.
In kindergarten, the children play and learn to be with other children. In school, they learn to read and count and to speak other languages. There are only 6 million in the world who speak Danish.
The Danish language is famous for being a bit difficult. Our letters are different from the ones you are used to.
And in addition, we have three extra letters called Æ, Ø and Å, which sound funny. The hardest thing to say in Danish is ‘red porridge with cream’ (must be in both languages), but until you have learned to say it, you can enjoy eating it.
Do you want to play?
When the children are free from school, they go to sports or go out and play. There are many children in Denmark who play either football, handball or ride skateboards and scooters. Many people also like to play on computers. Even if you can not speak Danish, you can easily join. Sport is the same across borders, and a smile means the same thing in all languages.
We eat that in Denmark
We love eating oatmeal with milk or a bun with cheese for breakfast. Sometimes we also get pastry, but it's mostly on the weekends. For lunch, we often eat sandwiches or rye bread with different cold cuts such as. eggs, sausage or liver pate. Rye bread is very common in Denmark. Tonight we eat food from all over the world, especially pasta and pizza. But there are also popular Danish dishes, such as meatballs or ground beef with boiled potatoes.
We talk a lot about the weather
In Denmark, the weather changes often and that is why we always talk about it. In the spring, everything grows out, and even though it's cool, everyone is looking forward to summer. Therefore, we go outside as soon as the sun shines. In the summer, Denmark really comes to life. Everyone meets in parks, cafes and on the beach. It can get very hot in the summer, but it also rains a lot. In the fall, when everything turns orange and the leaves fall from the trees, it is often windy weather. It is very beautiful, but many Danes go inside and meet for coffee and "cosiness". But there are also many who are outside cooking over a campfire or something. In winter it is cold and wet. Sometimes it snows, and then you can sled, build snowmen or do snowball fights.
We like "cozy"
Cosiness is a Danish word that we use about the feeling you get when you are with good friends, drink hot cocoa or watch TV together. It may be a little hard to say, but we all know the feeling. It is the heat that spreads in the stomach. The calm that falls over us. The smile that finds its way to the face. We look forward to having fun with you and your family. Welcome!