It’s all about colours

“Before, the library was an ordinary room for storage and we didn’t use it. The new library is inspiring, colourful and filled with colourful books for children in different levels. We not only use it for reading lessons, the children want to be there also after school.”

That was what the teachers and the principal told us at one primary school in Denpasar, when we asked how the new school library school had impacted the children’s reading and education. The school is one of the first in the Room to Read Accelerator Project that the IKEA Foundation is funding and, when we entered the library, I immediately understood what they meant.

Colourful bookshelves and books in the new school library
Colourful bookshelves and books in the new library. Photo by Anna Boren.

Being able to read and having inspiring books is something that is not possible for all, even though it’s so important, so basic for your learning. I’ve always had books at home and I’ve always read to my own children. That has been a very nice moment of togetherness and peace before bedtime.

Here I realised that these children were not used to having colourful children’s books in their own language and they rarely read together with their parents—before this project! How can it be that people with such a colourful culture, who decorate their houses and temples with flowers and colours, did not have the same environment at school?

I was surprised to see the classrooms compared to all the colours that welcomed us when we arrived. Bare, not so inspiring, classrooms and at the same time colourful, decorated statues in the schoolyards! Where were the colours? I found them in the schoolyards filled with smiling, happy and singing children welcoming us. It went straight to my heart! So beautiful, so joyful, so warm and so colourful!

Indonesian children welcoming IKEA Sweden staff to their school
Children welcome us at the first school. Photo by Room to Read.

Entering the colourful new library was amazing. A bright green carpet, a fantastic wall painting and colourful and inspiring books in the bookshelves that made me so happy! Such an inspiring and creative learning environment! The teacher read a book for the children, used different voices and tones, her body language was energetic and the children were totally captivated by the story! This was not an ordinary reading class, this was fun! Colourful, inspiring and fun! Using colours releases so many emotions in myself and now I could see the same in the children. Their smiles, the joy and how they painted what they had read—colourful, amazing paintings. Not only using their ears and eyes, now also their tactile minds and their artistic skills! What a gift, and I’m a part of that gift!

Happiness in the library. Photo by Anna Boren.

When we talked to some of the parents they told us how the new libraries with the new books had changed the reading behaviour of their sons and daughters, both at school and at home. Another extra bonus is the parents feel more involved in the schools now, since the new libraries have been set up. Since the schools have to find a way to sustain and develop the library after this project, the parents and the principals have realised that they have to take an active part in that development to make it happen. And the will from the parents is definitely there.

The project has given the children, and their families, a fantastic start with this literacy project! Showing that reading can, and should, be fun! And I’m so happy to see that something I have taken for granted in my own family start to happen also here in Indonesian families, although it has not been a tradition to read together.

Pair reading. Photo by Anna Boren.

We got the chance to listen, play, read and interact with children, their teachers and parents from four different schools and I have so many positive memories that I’ll keep in my heart also after coming back to Sweden.

We all know that education makes people healthier and more self-sufficient and reading is a necessary base for further learnings and development. I’m so proud to be a part of a company who sponsor a literacy project like this. The IKEA vision is: “To create a better everyday life for the many people”. By supporting this programme, we really show that we have a will to create a better everyday life for the children in Indonesia with bright, colourful libraries, filled with pedagogical and colourful books that stimulate them to read, learn, dream and live out their dreams! It’s all about colours!

Me reading together with some girls. Photo by Atanas Kovachev.


    Anna Boren