Here's how a TED Talk inspired a school to love its library

Published on: 16 May 2018

Teachers and school librarians are going to prick up their ears at this one. One school in Reading has brought pupils of all ages together – and inspired more of them to read books – through an interesting art project. And they got the idea from a TED talk video... 

Here's a fun idea to get children reading – and it involves the whole school. 

After watching a TED Talk by Michael Bierut, pupils from the Pangbourne College art department worked with their school librarian to make and set up a photography exhibition. 

To do this, Year 12 photographers took portraits of the librarian’s "heroes". These heroes are also pupils, selected because they make a significant, positive impact to the ambience of the library.

Portraits in close-up

Not only did this connect students who wouldn't normally interact with each other (older and younger), but it was a cross-departmental win, too, and brought the entire school community together.

But that's not all.

At the end of the project, the school organised a private view of the exhibition, inviting along the photographers, the sitters, parents and carers, and staff.

A really nice touch is that the prints were then sold to parents to raise a significant amount of money for a local hospice.

Here's what the people involved had to say:

'The exhibition looks great, and I'm glad to be a part of it. It has definitely made the library a more interesting and pleasant place to be.' Dan, portrait sitter in Year 13
'This project was great to do, as I have always wanted to do portrait photography at some point. The models were great, and am I very grateful that they took out some of their free time to help me achieve these photos.' Daisy, photographer in Year 12

'Some of the best experiences for pupils at Pangbourne come from seeds of creative imagination with people willing to take risks and then running with the project. The Portrait Exhibition Project started from such a small idea and guided by the collaboration of the Librarian and the Head of Art, the pupils have run away with it. The results are transformational...' Will Williams, Senior Deputy Head & Academic Deputy Head
'The exhibition looks stunning, and has generated a lot of interest and discussion amongst the pupils, the staff and the parents. The private view was very well attended by all the contributors and our special guests. I believe that we have managed to turn the library into a vibrant and inviting space, but more importantly, we have successfully raised the profile of the library in our school.' Christelle Aguillon, Librarian

Is this something you could do at YOUR school?

Let us know what you're up to your at school to get children reading @Booktrust on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

With thanks to Christelle Aguillon, librarian at Pangbourne College.

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