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Alexandria Library Visit and Interview

Library Automation Software
We had the opportunity this month to meet with two Alexandria users. These two individuals are elementary and high school librarians. The school is international and mostly operates in English and follows the American school year. Although most students are from Japan and Korea, some students are from the United States who have families working internationally in Japan.

During our visit, we had a few minutes to sit down and speak with our librarians about their library and students. You can check out highlights from the interview below!

Sakura Medal Award

Since November is Young Readers and Picture Book Month, we wanted to talk these librarians to see how they inspire their students to read.

They both referred to a reading program called the Sakura Medal Award. The program brings students together from international schools across Japan each year to vote on their favorite books. Each student reads five books in each category (i.e. picture books, chapter books, graphic novels) from elementary to high school. Once a student has read at least five books from each nominee category, they can vote for their favorite. Votes will be tallied across all participating schools and the winning author in each category will receive a Sakura Medal.

Both librarians agreed that the program does an amazing job of getting their students excited about books and reading!

Check out this year’s nominees for the Sakura Medal!

Highlights from Interview: Seisen International School

M = Alexandria Representatives A = high school librarian L = elementary school librarian

M: How do you inspire young readers to read? (Or, your readers, respectively.)

L: We have the Sakura Medal program, which is just starting now [for this year]. It's a program where there are certain books put aside—20 books in different categories—and there's a competition. And at the end of the time, the girls will vote for the best one. So that is very exciting, they get very excited about that program.

M: What are your go-to books to get students reading? Are there a specific few you start with?

L: Anything in a graphic novel, they'll take that. Then there's always the series, this year my goal is to make sure they know some series and authors, so we're really kind of pushing that. But a graphic novel really. Well and like Harry Potter, or Warriors, or anything by [Rick] Riordan, are a good go-to if anyone wants a series. And that seems to be quite good. So we get in lots of new series.

M: Are there a couple graphic novels off the top of your head?

L: Well anything by Raina Telgemeier, and Babysitter's Club, Baby Mouse, Dance Class—those are never in the library. But I would recommend the Sakura Medal books. I push those every year. Those are what I push that might bring in new authors, then we might get a whole lot of books by the same author.

M: Do you have a favorite among past winners of the Sakura Medal?

L: I'm busy reading this year's one at the moment, so last year's have all gone away [from mind] a little bit, but I mean there's quite a lot of picture books that I remember. Ida, Always won last year, it was so sad, everyone cries when they read it, I remember that one particularly. It's ones I'm reading at the moment that spring mostly to mind! Ms. Bixby's Last Day, I've enjoyed, it's a British novel. There are so many really. I'm enjoying Wish [Barbara O'Connor], I just finished that. The Explorer [Katherine Rundell?].

M: What is the most popular children's book at your school?

L: Any graphic novel. Smile or Drama or Sisters, I couldn't pick between them, or Dance Class. So Raina Telgemeier, or Babysitters or Dance Class. And it wouldn't be just one book. I mean, Harry Potter is popular, but those books [that I've just mentioned] are just checked out every day. The Warriors are very popular, the cat books, they go through a quick phase, but probably nothing like Raina Telgemeier. If she turned up here they'd worship her I suppose.

M: She should!

L: I know, I've asked her, I've written on her website and never had a reply. She probably doesn't need to. Perhaps she's a very quiet person, who doesn't want to travel to Japan.

M: A, what about your division?

A: No, I don't think there's any one book. At this point, I think it depends, there are so many different reading levels and grade levels, that it's hard to... it's different when they are younger, because they tend to want to do whatever everyone else thinks is popular. There [in my division] they've figured out what they like, usually, and plus especially with our English language development program, kids know their reading level, so they try to find books at their level. The kids scrutinize what they are looking for, carefully.

M: Do you use a reading level program to rate the books?

A: Just Lexile scores. We put it in the system as well. Then the kids can find it.

M: Do you put stickers on the book?

A: We physically write it on the first page, but also we put it in the main catalog, so it will show up, or they can Researcher it.

L: I don't, but I've noticed that you [A] do so that's great. But it's available for teachers, so they can see through Alexandria. I prefer kids to come in here and not be reading at a level. Because it's all level in their classrooms, so when they come in here they can go easy, they can go hard. Here, you be a risk taker, you take what you want. I'm not going to say 'no you can't have it'—I mean, obviously, if it's something, you know.. we might look at it, we might say 'do you want to read it, do you really like it?' you know, and sometimes they go 'no, I don't actually'. I try not to, I dissuade anybody who comes in here and says 'can you please find me a book at level M?' I go 'No'. Let's find a book that you might like.

To read the full interview click here!

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