A Sakura Medal Story

ASIJ students, along with students from about 20 other international schools across Japan, participated in the annual Sakura Medal Book Awards. Every year, the Sakura Medal is awarded to one book from each of nine categories (picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, middle school, high school, Japanese picture books, Japanese chapter books, Japanese middle school and Japanese high school).

Sakura Artwork Award

The Sakura Medal began when the idea was presented to the Association of Professional Librarians in Japan by Canadian Academy’s Jeannie Calaianni and our own former ES Librarian, Wouter Laleman, in October of 2004. Benefiting both students and librarians, the goal was to introduce quality new literature to readers. The program launched in 2005 with the first awards offered in 2006.

Nominations for this award are selected by librarians nationwide. Contrary to the methods of similar awards, however, winners are chosen by the students.

Students who wish to vote for their favorite books must have read three to five of the nominated titles, depending on their age group. Here at ASIJ, each division further encourages their students to read and participate by rewarding those who have completed the most books, offering door prizes and by holding voting parties.

Engaging more artistically-minded students, the Sakura Medal is also awarded with a certificate and original piece of artwork. Participating schools may submit artwork from their student body to be put to a vote. Nine, one representing each category, will win. You can check out all nominated student artwork at the Sakura Medal Art Competition Website.

The Sakura Medal is not just about reading and awarding the authors. ASIJ offers a variety of activities, contests and challenges to coincide with the reading and voting. The Elementary School hosted a photography contest in which participants took photos that represent the words of a nominated book. Middle and High School teachers also created additional opportunities for student involvement, such as the Sakura Medal Book Trailer Award. Interested students produced and submitted trailers promoting a Sakura Medal nominee of their choosing.

We would like to thank Chofu PTA for sponsoring the Sakura Medal Reading Program. We also appreciate tremendous the efforts of our volunteers and librarians.

You can learn more about the Sakura Medal at the Sakura Medal Website or view the nominations and winning books on Goodreads.

2015 Hall of Fame

Elementary School

Sixty-four Elementary school students read all 20 picture books, while a determined three read all chapter, picture and graphic books; Sophia and Zuzuran (Grade 5) along with Lieke (Grade 5) celebrated their achievements with ramen and ice-cream.

Celine (Grade 5), another fifth-grade student, won the photography contest with her photo series for the book Half a Chance.

Middle School

Dillon Morgan (Grade 8) and Sebastian Beck (Grade 7) were the top Middle School readers this year.

Reuben Fuchs (Grade 6) and Aidan Norris (Grade 6) won the book trailer contest. Natalie Omori-Hoffe (Grade 7) and Vrinda Sonkiya’s (Grade 7) team along with Aimee Dossor (Grade 6) and Julia Neely’s (Grade 6) team tied for second place. View the Middle School book trailers  on the ASIJ MS Library YouTube Channel: ASIJ MS Library

These skilled book readers and trailer winners were awarded with certificates which can be used to purchase Kindles or books.

High School

The top high school Sakura Medal reader this year was Hana Aram (Grade 9), who read 18 books to secure first place. Second place goes to both Ella Noll (Grade 12) and Olivia Johnson (Grade 11),  while Ashita Kumar (Grade 10) came in third and Emma Cattell (Grade 9) in fourth place. These students earned points towards the year-long HS class competition, SAIL.

Elena Guild (Grade 9) took first place in the HS Book Trailer Contest (Elena’s Trailer), Tairyu Hirayama (Grade 9) came in second (Tairyu’s Trailer) with Julie Reed (Grade 9) and Teresa Haberstroh (Grade 10) tied for third (Julie’s Trailer) (Teresa’s Trailer). Book Trailer winners went home with Amazon gift cards.

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