Moving on #blogjune 21

I’ve been dreaming of leaving this job since about 3 days after I started. I try not to think of anything as a “mistake” (because everything’s a learning experience, right?) but that’s certainly what it felt like here for about…oh, the first 12 months.

Preschool storytime 2016
Action Shot

Yet now, as I sift through work files and school event photos on my laptop and start to Trash and Burn, I have a sudden rush of … feelings.

This is the second-longest job I’ve held. Not necessarily because I have a short attention span – sometimes I’ve moved on in a hurry, but general Life events have also played their part (study, travel, child rearing). My last job before this I stayed 3 years, and it was the first time I left a position because it was the right thing to do, rather than to escape a tyrannical boss or poor working conditions. I was wholly unprepared for how leaving would feel. In the past I had left under cover of darkness, or in such rage against the machine that there was no room for feelings of sadness.

Primary library lesson
Listening intently, which students always do, whenever I speak lolololololololol

Here is a little of the latter, but it has been a long period of my life. And there have been some great moments, and some fantastic people – coworkers, students, random old ayis in the street. It’s also my last school-based teaching job (although, never say never as my teaching college buddy always said). At least by choice. And possibly my last librarian job for a little while. In a few days I will officially be unemployed.

So it’s all a bit emotional. And it will be a bittersweet farewell to China and all who sail in her.

Not the most inspirational 21st century library environment, but I’ve stared at it every day since August 2014. Incidentally, what is it with me and getting jobs in ugly libraries? (Ayi joining the shot…)

Reading #blogjune13

You’ll have to imagine pictures as my iPad refuses to upload photos on WordPress when I’m on the VPN. 

Trying to catchup on reading. Bought I’m a stranger here myself at Kyobo Books before we left Seoul, and was in such hysterics my daughter kept asking me if I was crying. I’ve always loved Bill Bryson’s books. I think it’s because he often ends up in similarly awkward situations when travelling. A good friend who is no longer with us gave me Notes from a small island when I first landed in the UK as a wide-eyed 21 year old who had never travelled outside Australia, so perhaps there is a sentimental attachment to Bill. 

In stark contrast, I’m also finishing Patrick Ness’ Chaos walking trilogy, which is violent but fascinating. I’m finding the characters frustrating now, in the 3rd book as they seemed to have melded into the woodwork rather than being unique. I’m also disappointed he hasn’t pursued the interaction between humans and Spackle. There was one brief allusion to it at the start of Book 3, but it’s gone nowhere. 

And I’m trying to read a Gabriel García Márquez book of short stories in an attempt to broaden my Spanish literature knowledge (although he was Colombian, I’m stretching the definition to include all in Español)

Panda Awards

Discovered a very cool thing when I started here and joined the Beijing Librarians Network: the Panda Book a Awards. Librarians from international schools all over China nominate recently published works in 4 categories: younger, middle, older & mature readers. A steering committee shortlists them and schools buy the books and promote over summer. After Lunar New Year, online voting takes place.

Our books only just arrived, so we’re behind the 8-ball, which means our display looks a bit bare, but we’ve had enthusiasm from the kids, and staff are keen to get more involved next year.

Our display, with charts for readers to mark off which books they’ve read:


QR code linking to website for the awards:


I found the first question was “what do we win?” And as I have no idea that meant kids lost a lot of interest. Quite a lot simply don’t get the idea of “reading for pleasure” This is a struggle for me to adapt to, as I have always been a serious bookworm, but also because I’ve just spent 3 years in public libraries, where people come in because they love reading.

Hopefully get the kids more engaged over the next week or two before voting.

Am I Still Cooking? YA and ‘Adult’ Literature

Am I still cooking? YA and ‘Adult’ Literature – I delve into YA for work, but also because of this –> “boredom with an adult literature obsessed with middle class neuroses” I find it’s a lot easier to sort the wheat from the chaff in YAlit. Adolescence is an interesting thing to dwell on. My 86 year old grandmother loves to tell me how she still feels 17 inside, and sometimes catches herself in the mirror, and just can’t understand it.

matt finch / mechanical dolphin

The Eleventh Doctor played by Matt Smith

My friend, the children’s writer and editor Louie Stowell, was having Big Thoughts about Young Adult (YA) Literature on Twitter this week…

I collated the ensuing discussion using Storify – you can read it at this link.

Trying to respond to Louie, I find I’m a terrible critic. I lack perspective. I can’t formulate a consistent position, although I’m curious about the trend for adults to read YA literature. I feel like there’s something going on right now with adulthood and youth that’s fascinating – that really matters, even more than usual. The best I can do is wander around the borderlands between those categories. Maybe Louie’s right: maybe it’s some kind of strange intergenerational schadenfreude.

Ruth Graham tried to question adults reading YA at earlier this year

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Small Ideas for Better Readers Workshop

Handy tips for promoting reading culture in your school – thinking I might use comicbook app to create one-pager of tips for teachers

Pernille Ripp

image from icanread

I have been discussing reading and writing almost every day these past few weeks preparing for my new job as a 7th grade English teacher.  I haven’t minded one bit either.  It seems if I am not discussing it, I am thinking about it, and that tends to lead to a blog post or five to get my own thoughts straight.  I started to realize that there are little tweaks that I have been using the past few years to make our conversations deeper and to make it run a bit smoother, couple that with new ideas thanks to my amazing PLN, and I am feeling pretty good about the start of school September 2nd.

So if you want students to actually read…

  • Give them reading time in class, even in middle and high school.  We cannot control what students do outside of our rooms but we…

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