Diving into a child’s world

There is no better feeling than being a child again, even for a moment… To look into the future full of expectation and boundless imagination; to experience reality with pure genuine curiosity, fearless and doubtless. And all of this in the world of books…

Indonesian children’s books. Photo by Marija Velickova.

During our IWitness trip in Indonesia, in Surabaya, from 22-26 October 2018, our IWitness team (consisting of co-workers from IKEA Austria and IKEA Delft) had an opportunity to be part of this amazing experience. Room to Read and local partner ProVisi Education are running a three-year project to build the capacity of 100 local writers and illustrators, create and publish at least 60 new children’s book titles and establish 156 school libraries – all supported by the IKEA Foundation. In Indonesia, there are a few recently opened school libraries but there are still far from enough. In a country with more than 17,000 islands, 700 living languages and several cultures and religions, you will expect wealth of books and libraries. But the reality is different.

The IWitness team (IKEA Austria and IKEA Delft) with IKEA Foundation partner Room to Read and local partner ProVisi in Surabaya. Photo by Sinéad Cloughley Byrne.

We met the writer of 100 children’s books, along with the editor and the illustrator, who helps make books for children more interesting in a visual and attractive way. We experienced what creating a book for young children is like.

Divided in three groups, we got an assignment to take 10 minutes and create a scenario for a children’s book and explain to the group what the book is about in a non-verbal way, so other participants could understand. At the end we had to express our book story by using clay. What a wonderful experience it was to dive with your imagination into a child’s world, to be more playful and to communicate by using creativity. At the end we had scripts and three masterpieces—creations for three books: “The story of Sura and Baya”, “The tree of life” and “Helping each other”. Just wonderful!

Part of the IWitness team playing out the scenario for their children’s book. Photo by Marija Velickova.
An IWitness member working on a clay figure for his team’s children’s story during the Book Publishing Workshop. Photo by Marija Velickova.

At the end of the day, full of impressions and reflections, I realised that nothing is more precious and joyful than the ability to rediscover the child in yourself and to make yourself believe in a better world and a better future. And we must never forget to emphasise the importance of reading books.

The Delft IWitness team and the IKEA Foundation representative with members of the book publishing team. Photo by Sonya Ivanova.

This is because there is a magical time between the ages three to seven when children expand beyond verbal communication and start to develop written language skills as well. One of the most lasting ways caregivers can impact their children’s overall success and joy is by instilling them with love and a passion for reading. Reading is a fantastic tool to improve imagination and creativity; to support cognitive development; to improve and develop language skills; to enhance a child’s concentration; to encourage a thirst for knowledge; to help develop empathy. It is a form of entertainment and having fun. But most important of all, it helps children to succeed in life and ensure a better future.

This is our mission, our commitment to the children and to the world. And I am proud to be a part of sharing this philanthropic mission.