Parent Library Skills Workshop Offered

The Library will be offering a Parent Library Skills Workshop this Thursday, 25 September, 8:00-8:45 a.m. Please come if you would like to learn more about the rich array of resources available to everyone in the IST community. The Librarians will teach you how to access databases and look at our collection online. If you are interested, please register below and let us know if you would like a return bus to Ao Cheng or Lake Park. (You may take the student bus in the morning).  Please check off more than one box if the form will not work.

We look forward to seeing you then!

Our workshops are meant to be short, focused sessions to help you use our library tools and be able to help your child/ren with their homework or their independent inquiries.

IST Library Parent Book Selection for March

The IST Library Parent Book Club met last Friday to discuss the book Me Before You, by Jojo Moyles. This novel is the story of an unlikely couple: Lou, adrift without ambition, and Will, a young man recently quadriplegic. Our discussion of the book touched upon a range of topics, from the experience of quadriplegics to international perceptions of assisted suicide and the appeal of the emotional tear-jerker as a genre. We all agreed that the book was sad, but no less enjoyable because of it.

Cover for Gone Girl, by Gillian FlynnThe book selection for March is Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl is a psychological thriller about a young wife who disappears. Her husband is framed for her murder when her diary is found. Full of twists and thrills, Gone Girl is one of those books you can’t put down. It will be made into a movie with Ben Affleck and Rosemund Pike as the husband and wife.

The IST Library Parent book club is open to all Tianjin expats who love to read. Please register online for each meeting via the blog’s book club registration widget on the left sidebar.

New Year Resolutions Part 5

With this installment of New Year resolution ideas, we finalize this series of posts with a reading promotion organized by the Elementary Student Council (ESC.)

In order to raise funds for an orphanage in Tianjin and to encourage reading among our students, the ESC is inviting all of our elementary students to a read-a-thon. Participating students will need to obtain adult “sponsors” who will pledge (promise) to a given amount per page read. The amount pledged per page will depend on the sponsor. A common pledge is one mao or one yuan per page.

Elementary Student Council Read-a-Thon February 2014

Armed with sponsors, students will then read, read, read. The ESC has provided packages for keeping track of pages read and money raised.

The read-a-thon starts today and will end after the Chinese New Year break on 17 February. We hope you will support the ESC and your child’s reading by donating generously. If you would like book recommendations for your child, just stop by the library to ask us.

November Library Parent Book Club

Cover for Lost on Planet China, November 2013 Book Club selectionWe had another great book club meeting on Friday, 22 November, discussing the book Lost on Planet China: One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation, by J. Maarten Troost, who traveled around China for a month. He managed to visit many different cities and get a glimpse of the enormous diversity of China. Mr. Troost was very funny at times, and we identified with many of the situations he described. In the end, however, we agreed that Mr. Troost cannot get a true sense of China without really living here, and that he exaggerated negative aspects of China, like the pollution, for comedic effect rather than in an attempt to truly understand.

If you enjoyed Lost on Planet China (or even if you didn’t,) here are some other travel books or memoirs on China that you might like from our collection.

Home is a Roof over a Pig, by Aminta Arrington. This is the memoir of an American mother and teacher, who moves her family to Ta’ian, a city near Qufu where Confucius was born, to teach English at a Chinese university. One of her children was adopted from China, and Ms. Arrington wanted to give her a sense of her heritage. Ms. Arrington has always been enamoured of the Chinese language and the book is organized in chapters focused on Chinese characters and the history behind each. Find it in the library with the call number, 951 ARR.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler. The author is now a journalist in Beijing, but he first came to China with the US Peace Corps to teach in the river town of Fuling. River Town is a memoir of his two years as an English professor in the university. He also loves the Chinese language and he worked hard at learning to speak, read and write it. An enjoyable read, this book can be found with the call number 951.1 HES.

Riding the Iron Roosterby Paul Theroux.  The author took a year to travel around China on the Chinese railroad system, and in doing so he discovered many different aspects of China. Our paperback copy can be found with the call number 915.1. Although this book is 25 years old, it has a soft spot in my heart because it was one of the first travel books I read and it hooked me onto travelogues.

Inferno, by Dan Brown - January 2014 IST Parent Book Club selectionOur next meeting will not be until 17 January 2014. The book we will be discussing then will be Inferno, by Dan Brown. I personally enjoyed The Da Vinci Code very much, and am looking forward to losing myself to the hunt in this new book.

The IST Library Parent Book Club is open to all expats in Tianjin who love reading. Please register via the sidebar widget.

November 2013 Parent Book Club

Our next IST Library-Parent Book Club meeting will be this Friday, 22 November, from 9:15 to 10:15 in the library. We will be discussing the book, Lost on Planet China, by Maarten J. Troost.

Cover for Lost on Planet China, November 2013 Book Club selection

Lost on Planet China is a humorous, self-deprecating travel book by Maarten J. Troost, the author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals. I’m looking forward to discussing the book with the rest of the book club, because I think he sees China with very different eyes from the expats living in Tianjin.

The IST Library Parent Book Club is open to all Tianjin expats who love to read. We meet once a month at the IST library to discuss a book that the whole group has read. We choose our books based on recommendations by the book club members. The titles cover a range of genre and authors, and often reflect the country of the recommending member.

To join us, please register via the sidebar widget. Hope to see you this Friday! Even if you have not read the book, come to enjoy the company and the specialty teas, and come ready to recommend a book or two.

Happy Birthday, Ho Je!

Tenth grader Ho Je celebrated his birthday this morning during homeroom period.  Secondary Librarian Ms. Morgan presented him with the Library Birthday Club Book donated by his mother.



Ho Je is a fan of science fiction novels. In his honor, the library selected and purchased Crash by Neal Stephenson.  Published in 1992, this book quickly became a classic among science fiction fans. The IST community thanks Ho Je and his mother for adding this influential book to the collection. Ho Je plans to take the book on his Week Without Walls trip.

The IST Library Birthday Book Club is an opportunity for our students to contribute to the library collection. For a fee of 150RMB, parents can donate a book in their student’s name. The book is selected by the librarian with input from the parents and the student. A nameplate in the book commemorates the occasion. If you would like to participate in this worthy program, please click on this form.

Thank You to our Super Volunteers

We are very fortunate to have a group of dedicated volunteers who help us out in the library. From shelving to cataloging our foreign language books, our volunteers help us in many areas.

This week, we asked for their help again to prepare for the summer closing. Five volunteers came today, including a mom from the Japanese International School, to shelf-read our collection. Shelf-reading is when we check to make sure that all the library books are in the right place on the shelf. It’s tedious work, and with 30000 titles to check, quite time-consuming. We greatly appreciate the time our volunteers gave up today to help us.

We also want to thank two of our volunteers, Shibani and Carla, who are leaving IST to return to their home countries.

Shibani has been very supportive of the library program from her arrival at IST when her son was in kindergarten. He has participated in the IST Library Birthday Book Club three years in a row, donating very popular titles: a set of early reader non-fiction on animals, the first book in the Dragonbreath series and the third book in the Ninjago series. Shibani has been volunteering on a weekly basis and helping with shelve returned books.

Carla Pamfilio has been volunteering at the library for the last three years. She was instrumental in securing funding for our Portuguese language collection. To that effect, she organized the Brazilian community in two Brazilian BBQs which were a great deal of fun for parents, and very beneficial for students as our Portuguese language collection grew from 5 titles to 210! Carla also helped recently with the cataloging of our Spanish books. She is friendly and super efficient, and we’ll miss her terribly.

This year, Astrid Breutzman, Quay Martin, So Young Yoo and Tomoko Homma have also given us many, many hours of unstinting help. We appreciate all and any of the time that they give us and we’re delighted to call them friends.

Thank you, dear volunteers, again for all of your help and support this year. Best wishes to Carla and Shibani on returning to their home countries. Happy summer!

A Year of Reading

We had our final meeting of the IST Library Parent Book Club yesterday. We had a lively discussion of the book, Please Look After Mom, by Korean author Kyung Sook Shin. We agreed that the book was certainly distinctive because of its second person narrative and that we see our parents more in their role as parents and less as individuals.

Here’s a list of the books we read in the 2012-2013 school year. The photo above features our book club members with several of the books, but most of them are currently checked out so we couldn’t include them all. I’m not surprised they’re checked out. They’re all great reads!

  • August 2012 – The Illuminator, by Brenda Rickman Varese
  • September 2012 – The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton
  • October 2012 – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
  • November 2012 – Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner
  • January 2013 – Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for  a Laugh, by Mo Yan
  • February 2013 – The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai, by Riuyan Xu
  • March 2013 – Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Somaya Gouda
  • April 2013 – Man from Beijing, by Henning Mankell
  • May 2013 – Please Look After Mom, by Kyung Sook Shin

What a great list! As I look over it, I am delighted to see how it reflects the international flavor of our members. While I enjoyed reading all of the books, my favorite part was always the discussions when one of our members could take the lead in explaining cultural references about the setting and/or characters.

We are sad to bid farewell to several of our members in June: Carla Pamfilio, Brenda Didelot and Angela Woods. Thanks for the wonderful discussions and the great book recommendations. We hope you’ll stay in touch. I’m on Goodreads if you’d like to join me there. My username is fitziane.

Our first meeting in August will be on Wednesday, the 14th. We will be discussing Bad Karma, by German author Eric Safier. This is a humorous book about a man who reincarnates in several different animals before finally returning to life as a human. It is available on, but not yet on a Kindle version as it’s a very recent title.

The IST Library Parent Book Club is open to all expats in Tianjin who love to read. Please register via the sidebar widget.