The bountiful book bag – or why we want our students to have a book bag…

We have noticed something very extraordinary about students who use book bags for their library books

  • they bring their library books back to the library when it is library lesson
  • their drink bottle or yoghurt or snack food is never found on their library books
  • their library books are never dumped on the floor and trodden on
  • the students have a place to put their library books when they are using them at home
  • their library books remain in good condition
  • these students can check out more books to take home in their book bags
  • if by any chance they mislay their library book bag it is found by someone and returned to them or to us

At IICS we do not provide our students with book bags, we simply don’t have the resources to do this BUT the good news is that with the move away from plastic bags many shops are embracing re-usable bags. These bags make great book bags for our students. All we ask is that each child brings a reusable book bag with them to take their library books to and from home.

There is a group in Hong Kong called “Bring me a Book” and they have banks and other organizations sponsor Book Bag libraries. A book bag includes books that have

– Pictures, few words
– Pictures, more words
– Words, few pictures
– Chapter books
–  Some books with audio recordings

This reminded us of a presentation we saw at the IASL conference about lending families book bags. I wrote about it on my personal blog. This is something we would like to explore with our friends of the library this year – or with the student librarians. The goal is to encourage whole families to read together and as individuals. The backpacks  created in the libraries in Croatia included books for the whole family.

Book bags can lead to some wonderful reading for the whole family. Time to make sure your child has one.

NEW old library

Over the summer vacation, our library had new carpet laid. This caused a ‘beautiful disruption’ as we had to close early to pack every book and every piece of library equipment into boxes. We labeled and color-coded each box to show which books it contained and which part of the collection the books were part of. So yellow for primary nonfiction, purple for YA fiction and so on. Our wonderful parent helpers and student librarians helped to fill the boxes. We ended up with more than 170 large boxes.

Then over the summer, the shelves were taken out, one interior wall was removed, the boxes were taken out, the old carpet was removed and the new carpet installed.

I arrived back from summer vacation two and a half weeks early to start the job of unpacking the boxes. Before the unpacking could begin we had to place the shelves back in the library – we decided as a team not to put the shelves back where they had been. We used this disruption to change where parts of the collection were. So we now have one area that is for secondary and one for the primary. The circulation desk is now in the center of the room and we have more dedicated display space. Many of the ideas for the change came from consultation with students and staff, our own ideas as a library team and Kevin Hennah’s workshop at the Waterloo ECIS librarians conference I attended a few years ago.

We have the same floor space, we have the same old shelves, the same old furniture, the same old books and the same old librarians (well I am still the same old librarian).

Yet, everyone who came in as the school year began commented about how wonderful the new library was. It had more space. It had more light. It was more welcoming. It is better.

Just goes to show how beautiful a disruption can be and how a different, dare I say a better layout of shelves can make all the difference.


Valued friendship

This year we are inviting parents to join the library team through a group called “Friends of the Library”

We want to encourage more parental involvement with our school libraries. Hopefully, as in true friendship, the relationship will be mutually beneficial.

So far our wonderful friends have translated Russian book information into English so we can catalogue, arranged transport to Istanbul for some books, covered books with our plastic wrap to help them last longer and discussed the formation of a book club.

What can the IICS libraries bring to the friendship?
* Unlimited borrowing from our collection at both libraries. Sign up with one of our librarians to be added as a borrower.
* Come and enjoy the library. This year every time there is a primary assembly at Marmara the library has a space booked for “Friends of the Library” so you can use the space for a book club meeting or simply browsing.
* We are open to your suggestions.

What can parents bring to the friendship?
* Translating book information into English. We have some books in languages other than English waiting to be catalogued. We need help to have the titles and book information translated so we can add them to our catalogue.
* Reading aloud to children in your home language. A couple of times each year we have a home language storytime in the primary school on both campuses. If you would like to read to children in your own language you help can make this a fun experience for our students.
* Help grow our collection. When you are back in your home countries visit a bookshop and find out what is the most popular book for your age child. Buy a copy and donate it to our library for everyone to enjoy.
* Donate your read magazines or books in good condition when your own bookshelves become too full to take any more new additions.
* Prepare books for cataloguing at Marmara campus. If you have a spare hour or so we could use your help getting books ready to catalogue.
* Transporting book orders from the USA or the UK. We have a service for our students and staff called “Buy this book please” where they can request books and we purchase them on Amazon. Unfortunately, the cost of delivery is almost as much as the cost of the books. We could make our budget go so much further if you could let us know of a trip to the USA so we can order a few books, have them delivered to you and then you bring them back. We would need about 2 weeks notice and you definitely set the limit in terms of numbers of books

If you want to be a friend of our library please let one of our librarians know in person or email or Amanda Bond

Next meeting for Friends of the library will be on Wednesday 11 October at 10 am Marmara Campus library

Our first friends of the library meeting

International Languages section is expanding

This week we went from only 3 books in the Russian language to more than 20 thanks to the generous donation of a family.

Reading books in your own language is very important while developing language skills in English. Studies show that the same skills are utilized when reading in any language. Also, children learn better in their ‘mother tongue’ All good reasons to expand our collection.




BoB is back and bigger than before

This year we will hold our third Battle of the Books (BoB) for grade 5 & 6 and our first (BoB) for grades 3 & 4. BoB is a quiz about some books we have chosen for each grade level. Some of the great reasons to be part of a BoB team: you get to read and discuss the same books as your friends are reading, you get to read books you may not have ordinarily chosen for yourself, you get to represent your class in a competition, it is fun. Below is a book trailer showing which books are for each level.


Magazines arrive in the library

The students selected the titles and now they have started to arrive. We have:

  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic traveller
  • National Geographic Kids
  • Sports Illustrated Kids
  • Videomaker
  • Psychology Today
  • Kazoo
  • Popular Science
  • Discovery
  • Saveur A cooking magazine
  • DC Comics Batman
  • DC comics Superman

Come and relax and read them in the library or take them home, all magazines are available for a one week loan


Grade 1 Compare and Contrast Activity

Today in the library we read A Visit to the Library by B.A. Hoena. Students had to compare two libraries: the library in the book and our IICS library. They took notes and put them on the board in Similar and Different columns. Grade one students really enjoyed the activity.

Books are calling – where to find useful lists of good books

Our library catalogue is a great source for lists of books.  You don’t need to log in simply click the catalogue tab and on the menu on the left click resource lists. There you will find lists of books we have collated about many different topics. Some are genre lists, for example “Whodunnit” is a list of crime fiction; some are grade level reading suggestions “Recommended reading lists”; and some relate to the IB learner profile, for example “Principled”

While you may not be able to get to the library to get the books today why not make a list of books you would like to read?

An example of a read aloud – The Talent Show

A few years ago our primary school art teacher, Jo Hodgkinson, started to write and illustrate childrens’ picture books. Here is one of the stories being read on the television show CBeebies Bedtime Stories. Think about how the presenter uses her voice to bring the characters to life. You can subscribe to channels like the CBeebies for more stories read aloud by famous actors.

How to read aloud – 4 tips for students reading to others

Thanks for being willing to read aloud to others. Doing this effectively brings the reading alive to your listeners and their responses can make it even more fun for you.

Tip 1 Preview the material. Read it through once on your own silently so you can appreciate the meaning and check for tricky words. The read it through aloud at least once. Many picture books have a rhythm and pace that come alive when you read the words aloud – but this does take practice. Also this helps you plan how to do special voices for the characters, when to have a loud voice and when to drop to a whisper.

Tip 2 Try to read the book in a way that allows your audience to see the illustrations AS YOU READ. Don’t read then show the pictures, that can frustrate your audience. Try to practice sitting and holding the book so you can read it and show the pictures at the same time.

Tip 3  Decide ahead of time whether you will allow your audience to comment and question as you go OR to wait for comments and questions at the end. This can depend on the age of the audience AND the number of people. Sometimes it is good to allow comments about the cover and title before reading then invite the group to wait until the end of the story for further discussion. This is so that the story can answer the questions as it goes.

Tip 4 Don’t worry about making mistakes – just relax and enjoy the experience as well. This can be fun – especially if your audience is enjoying the story and the way you are reading it.

There are quite a few Youtube videos for teachers on how to read aloud – not so many with advice for students on how to read aloud to other students. The one below will give you some inspiration I hope. Good luck and enjoy yourselves….