Sunday, May 22, 2016

Winners! Red Dot Books & Readers Cup 2015-2016

Another cycle of the Red Dot Book Awards and the Readers Cup competition is over.  This is our 7th year!

With over 5,000 votes cast from 11 different international schools, the Singapore-wide book award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in the four categories are:

Early Years
  • 1st place:  Polar Bear's Underwear
  • 2nd place:  Pig the Pug
  • 3rd place:  You Are (Not) Small
Younger Readers
  • 1st place:  Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey
  • 2nd place:  Quinny and Hopper
  • 3rd place:  Samurai vs. Ninja: The Battle for the Golden Egg
Older Readers
  • 1st place:  Wild Boy
  • 2nd place:  Masterminds
  • 3rd place:  The Fastest Boy in the World
Mature Readers
  • 1st place:  The Martian
  • 2nd place:  The Truth Commission
  • 3rd place:  A Time to Dance
Note that each school also has its own winners -- and participating schools are given those results to advertise as they will.

Last Thursday the Canadian International School - Lakeside hosted the Readers Cup competition, where teams from different schools compete in three categories -- Younger, Older, and Mature -- with questions based on a subset of this year's Red Dot books.

The Readers Cup winners were:
  • Younger:
    • 1st - Dulwich Team 2
    • 2nd - NPS Team 1
    • 3rd - SAS Team 1
  • Older 
    • 1st - CIS TK 1
    • 2nd - SAS 1
    • 3rd - CIS Lakeside 2
  •  Mature:
    • 1st - GESS
    • 2nd - UWCSEA Dover
    • 3rd - CIS Lakeside
Students could also submit book cover creations and book trailers to be judged.  Click here to see all the entries.

The Book Cover winners were:
  • Younger Readers - Dulwich : Senan Lynch
  • Older Readers - Lycee Francais : Antoine Mauger
  • Mature Readers - SAS : Sneha Mukherjee
The Book Trailer winners were:
  • Younger Readers - Nexus : Isla & Oliver
  • Older Readers - SAS : Sidney Ford
  • Mature Readers - SAIS : Aditya Rao
254 students from 14 schools in 46 teams participated in the Readers Cup.  Congratulations to all! And many thanks to all our members who organized it.

Besides medals and trophies, individual prizes included a year's subscription to Epic Books, an online ebook library for children, as well as (physical) book tokens from A Closet Full of Books, the children's literature specialist book vendor here in Singapore run by Denise Tan, who attended the competition and handed out the prizes. 

Books worth $3k are also donated to charity in honor of each of the three 1st place teams in the book quiz.  The three winning teams will be notified early next year as to which local charity their $1000 worth of books from A Closetful of Books has been donated to and they will be given the opportunity for a photo session with the recipients.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Feedback on some professional visits in Perth

Last week Barb Reid and I did a fairly impromptu 3-day visit to Perth, thanks to Scoot fares too cheap to ignore, some end-of-year extra money, and the hunt for a keynote speaker.

We are hosting the next Librarians' Knowledge Sharing Workshop here on the UWCSEA East campus in February 2017 (you can register your interest here - and wanted to approach Brad Tyrrell at Scotch College in Perth as a possible keynote and pre-conference workshop leader on Libguides.  (The answer is Yes -- he is going to be one of our featured speakers, with Dianne McKenzie the other.)

The trip was a perfect chance to also visit some libraries, which Brad helped arrange.  We ended up seeing 7 school libraries, 2 public libraries, 1 university library, and 1 literature centre.

I'll start by sharing my photos -- and Barb has more.  We'll each summarize our big take-aways later, e.g., I'm working on a Storify of the highlights and interest points for me (though what I chose to photograph is a big clue).  [Update: May 27: I opted to just annotate the photos in Google Photos - a pseudo-Storify feature.] [Update: May 30: Fixed the "shed" link below.]
Happy viewing!

[Update: May 28]  Here we are with Jenny Doust (whom we met at the last Librarians' Knowledge Sharing Workshop -- in KL) at the Fremantle Literature Centre.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Around the world: Non-fiction awards for children's and young adult literature

The guest speaker at today's network meeting will be Bob Sibert, CEO of Bound to Stay Bound Books and son of the man for whom the American Library Association's Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal was named.  The medal was founded in 2001 with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books.

Here are some of the other awards for nonfiction or informational books for children and young adults.

 The UK School Library Association started their Information Book Award in 2011 -- for three age categories: under 7s, 7-12 and 12-16.  Read the background information hereThe 2015 winners were announced in November 2015.

In Canada there is the Norma Fleck Award for Non-fiction, established in 1999 by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.  The winner is announced in November each year.

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction is one category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, founded in 1997 by the Association of New Zealand Booksellers.  Winners are announced in August of each year.

The Children's Book Council of Australia has sponsored the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books since 1988.  Winners are announced in August.

The Cybil Awards are online awards run by a large group of bloggers about children's literature -- many from the US, but not exclusively.  There's a Non-fiction award in two categories:  Elementary/Middle Grade and Young Adult.  The 2015 winners were just announced on Feb. 14th. 

Are there any other awards I should add to this list?  If so, let me know and I will amend this post.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Red Dots roll around again...

The goal for announcing the 2016-2017 Red Dot shortlists is June 1st.  Which means we need to be gathering suggested titles and getting volunteers to start reading them.

I'd like to ask everyone in our network to suggest at least 2 titles of books you have already read that could be good Red Dot selections -- by March 1st.  Remember: in the end we need to find 8 books at each level.

Criteria in choosing books:
  • Mix of genres, e.g., fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic format
  • Balance of boy/girl main characters
  • Balance of nationalities
  • Published (in English) within the last 4 years  (i.e., 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016)
  • Preferably only #1 if in a series
  • Preferably no repeat of an author from previous years
  • Preferably books that encourage Text-Text, Text-Self, and/or Text-World connections for students (i.e., books worth talking about)
Here are links to all the previous shortlisted titles on our ISLN GoodReads bookshelves:

Click here to view all submissions so far -- in a Google Spreadsheet.

Click here for this year's Red Dot website.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Library Information Sessions for Parents


Some of the parents who regularly attend my Library Info sessions at Chatsworth.

I started these sessions around May 2015 and I’ve had a very positive response from parents.  I started with 4 sessions, now there are 7.  I added the 3 additional session based on parent feedback and what they wanted to know more about.

Library Information Sessions - Advantages

These sessions garnered parent support for my role as a librarian in many ways:
  • Parents get to experience, and appreciate, how we work with students and teachers, and what we are capable of (LOTS!!!).
  • Parents understand how we, libraries, and onlines sources are essential resources to learning.  They learn to appreciate our expertise.  There is an alternative to Google and Wikipedia. Let us show you they way!
  • Your user stats will go up.  If we educate parents how to use our sources (both online and print), they encourage their children to do so at home, outside of the classroom and library.
  • By couching these sessions in the context of the IB programme (or whatever curriculum your school uses), you demonstrate how the role of the librarian is essential to support the curriculum.  One example is our work with information literacy within the framework of the ATL (Approaches to Learning) for the IB MYP (Middle Years Programme).  
  • Parents have given me useful feedback as to how I can better collaborate with teachers and students.  They are a resource too.
  • Since parents have become more aware of the resources and the librarian, they encourage the administrators to support me and teachers to collaborate with me.  My Head of Primary has mentioned this to me. Consequently, I’ve been given more “airtime” to talk about the library during staff meetings and recently held a session during one of our PD days.
  • Parents tell me that I have shown them “safe” places where their kids can search.  That’s a tough challenge with the deluge of information out there - and it’s not all age appropriate, never mind reading levels.  
  • Parents feel more confident evaluating and searching for information with their children.  For this reason, they feel they can take a more active role in supporting their children with their school work.  

Content - What I Cover

This is what I cover in 7 sessions.  Each session is about an 45mins to an hour.  Your content may be different based on what sources you have and the students/curricular needs of your specific school or even grade level (eg. secondary vs. junior vs primary).

NLB Part One - Save space, money and get your child reading
A NLB membership offers access to both online and print sources. Come learn the many benefits of being a member. If your child is in the IB PYP, MYP or DP programme, this will benefit them and save you money.  This session will include a tour at the library@orchard at 313.  
ebonline - Britannica School Online
Discover life beyond Wikipedia and the advantages of ebonline.  Learn what your child can find that is age and reading level appropriate for their school work.
*bring laptop or tablet*
EbscoHost Online Research Databases
Find out how your students have access to thousands of magazines, newspapers and academic articles with EbscoHost.
*bring laptop or tablet*
Academic Honesty and How to Avoid Plagiarism
Learn what qualifies as plagiarism and what is acceptable to hand in as your own original work.   We will also look at the different consequences of plagiarism in real life scenarios.
Search Strategies and Evaluating Information
Find out how to broaden, narrow and focus your online searches.  After you get your results, we will look at how to select the best source for your task at hand.
*bring laptop or tablet*
How to Search the Online Library Catalog
You will learn how to search for library books from our school library online and check your child’s library records, view POI-linked books for PRI, and Extended Essays for SEC and Webpath Express, a useful search tool with content approved by educators.
*bring laptop or tablet*
NLB - Part Two
Online Resources - It’s more than books
If you have a NLB (National Library Board) membership, find out how you have access to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of free databases, online books, talks and more.  
*bring laptop or tablet* you should have a NLB membership, but it is not essential


  • I aim to make my sessions relevant for K-12 students. I want as broad of an audience to attract as many parents as I can.  Maybe you don’t have to do that if you are only a primary or secondary librarian.
  • Schedule a regular time and day so it becomes a habit for parents. Parents at my school know it’s every Tues 9:30am in the library
  • Block it on your timetable so that you and the parents can have the library to yourselves.  Teachers need to know that time is for parents so I note that in my shared timetable to all primary and secondary teachers.
  • Give a month’s notice before you run them.  I do these on the second month after the beginning of each semester so that parents can settle down first after a long holiday
  • Send out weekly reminders if possible.  I do mine through the Parents Blog every Friday for the upcoming session the following Tuesday
  • Ask parents what they found useful and not useful so you can modify it to their needs if possible.  
  • Use Google forms to track attendance and stats
  • Even if a few parents turn up, they will spread the word.  I have parents that now send out reminders for these sessions to all the parents of their child’s classroom now.  
  • Work with the parents group/association in your school so they can get the word out through their network.
  • The NLB (National Library Board) is a valuable resource for any parent who has child enrolled in the IB Curriculum
    • Diploma - Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, internal assessment work for all subjects), World Literature
    • Middle Years Programme - information literacy, research, personal project, general reading - we get our summer reading lists from the NLB so guess where they can find the books - for free (ok not including NLB membership fee)?
    • Primary Years Programme - units of inquiry use no textbooks so the more comprehensive and wider children read about their unit-related transdisciplinary themes, the better.  No one can offer the vast array of unit/age/reading level appropriateness that NLB does.
    • … and they will never have to pack and move another book when they leave Singapore!
    • All that for less than $50SGD per year.

If you have any ideas how we can improve our library information session for parents, drop me an email at  I would be interested to hear about your experiences.

Good luck.

Elaine Fong
Chatsworth International School - Orchard Campus