Our Commitment to Literacy

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The strength of the library was tangible during IST’s celebration of International Schools Library Week (ISLW) in October. New programming energized this traditional observance. The following week, IST hosted a greatly respected author, Kenn Nesbitt, former USA Children’s Poet Laureate. Former USA Poet Laureate (2013-2015) Kenn Nesbitt Visits IST On the heels of ISLW, elementary […]

Children’s Choice Book Award Winners & Finalists for 2015

The winners of this American award are chosen by kids and teens of all ages. This is the only national book award chosen this way. Voting ran through May 3. The full list of all category winners may be accessed through this website:

The winner of Teen Book of the Year is one that is very popular here at IST: The One by Kiera Cass. This dystopian novel is Book 3 in The Selection series, commonly described as “Hunger Games meets Cinderella.” It’s a lovely fairy tale and romance set in an intriguing futuristic world. The novel is available on four of the library Kindles. Book 4 in this series was released May 5th. Odds are it will be one of the 2016 finalists!

A popular series!

A popular series!



Libraries & Literacy

Eight IST teachers are here at the East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) Teachers Conference in Kota Kinabalu. For the past two mornings, we have been treated to two excellent keynote speeches: the first by John Wood and the second by Anne Sibley O’Brien. Both speeches brought tears to my eyes.


John Wood is the founder of Room to Read. He left his high profile Microsoft job and devotes his life to providing education to kids in developing countries. Focusing on literacy and gender equality in education, he’s a real hero to librarians. He started out by using yaks to deliver books in Nepal! Room to Read now publishes books in the mother tongues of these developing countries, effectively raising literacy levels. His non-profit has opened 17,800 libraries and reached 9 million children.


Anne Sibley O’Brien spoke about her life as a third culture kid
and how it has led her to her role today. She’s an author-illustrator who is equally internationally minded. Her blog “looks at issues of race and culture in relation to creating and using children’s literature.” Just as her thinking considers racial identity and unconscious bias, her multicultural books do also. For example, her illustrations depict children of different races all together. We have nine of her books in the IST Library catalog, and Charlotte McMulkin, the IST pre-K teacher who is also at the conference, has a collection in her classroom.

These two speakers have really reinforced my belief in the power of books and story. There is power in raising literacy levels and bias consciousness. It is an incredible learning opportunity here at EARCOS and I am so thankful to the professional development program funded by IST.

Author Visits

After a great visit to IST secondary last week by Bali Rai, the importance of author visits has really been highlighted. An in-house visit, when done right, provides a learning experience that is as special as any other.

The excitement builds!

The excitement builds!

The MYP Book Club with author Bali Rai

The MYP Book Club with author Bali Rai

Mr. Rai conducted four one-hour workshops for Grades 11, 10, 9, and 8 respectively. He taught creative writing and delineated the “road map” of a story. Reinforcing an idea that “The Two Steves” brought to IST last year with their author visit, Bali asserted that no story is original; stories are based on a set of road maps, or basic structures,  particular to their genre.

For example, there are 3 basic road maps for a romance. In the first, the male and the female are together, there is a conflict, and they end up back together. In the second, the couple is not together, there is a conflict, and they end up happily ever after together also. In the third, the couple is not together, there is a conflict, and the couple does not end up together. (This is the least popular road map and the one Mr. Rai employs).

Bali went on to dissect the basic frames of mysteries, dramas, horror stories. He also connected road maps to popular trilogies and their film versions. The movies Kung Fu Panda and Ratatouille also provoked discussion of literary devices such as personification.

The learning became very visible when Mr. Rai helped Grade 10 students with the short stories they had just drafted. Students volunteered their road maps, Mr. Rai asked constructive questions, and ways of improving these stories developed.

Students get very excited when an author visits. And they look forward to more.  Already, Grade 8 student Esther Nicol has “tumblred” with popular YA author Cassandra Clare about a possible visit next year. Thanks, Esther!

This is a tumblr.

This is a tumblr.