Visiting Spoken Word Poet, Harry Baker

Harry Baker will be with us for the week of April 16-20 (off and on). Harry Baker was the youngest-ever winner of the Poetry Slam World Cup in 2012 and he has travelled the world and dazzled student audiences ever since.

On Monday morning, April 16, Harry will present to all students ages 10-17 in an opening assembly, followed by workshops for smaller groups scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Harry will be back with us on the Friday for another day of work with students and an afternoon assembly together with students and teachers from TEDA. It will be an amazing week.

To get a taste of Harry Baker’s talent and charm, see his website (, check out his book, The Sunshine Kid, and/or view his TED talk, “A love poem for lonely prime numbers”

A huge thanks to the PFO for their generous donation towards the expenses related to bringing Harry Baker here.

Matt Holm Author Visit

Last week, we were pleased to host author and illustrator Matt Holm for two days of workshops with elementary and secondary students and teachers. Mr. Holm shared his journey to becoming an author and illustrator, and how he creates the artwork for books like the popular Squish and Babymouse series. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed his workshops, and many students were inspired by his visit and wanted to work on their own illustrations. A big thank you to Matt Holm and the team at Obido books who helped make it happen!

Welcome Back!

A warm welcome back from your IST library team! We have an exciting year of reading and library programs planned. Here are some upcoming events for your calendar:

  • Author/Illustrator visit: Matt Holm (Aug 31 & Sep 1). Holm is the illustrator for the popular Squish and BabyMouse books. Parents are welcome to attend his workshops! A final schedule will be coming soon.
  • Scholastic Book Orders (order forms will go home this Friday. Please return the forms by August 25th).
  • International Schools Library Week (Oct 16-20)
  • BPIEC Book Fair (Oct 17-18)
  • Book Character Dress Up Day (Oct 20). Start planning your costumes!

Volunteers Welcome

We are very lucky to have several volunteers who assist us with everything from ordering to shelving, but we are always happy to have more community members coming in to assist. If you are interested in becoming a library volunteer, please contact the IST librarians at or

Birthday Book Club

We love to help students celebrate their birthdays! With the birthday book club, you help support the library’s book collection and give your child a special birthday memory. How does it work? The librarians select a new book for the library, based on your child’s interests. A nameplate will be put into the new book, and your child will be the first to check the new book out. The cost is 150 RMB. Please contact the librarians if you would like to celebrate your child’s next birthday with us!

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.