The Sakura Medal Books

Librarian Recommended Children’s English Books

The Sakura Medal

The Sakura Medal Books Awards bring together students from international schools across Japan each year to vote for their favourite books.

Each year, librarians from various international schools meet and select 25-30 books in each of the Sakura Medal categories - Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Chapter Books, Middle School, High School, Japanese Picture Books, Japanese Chapter Books, Japanese Middle School, and Japanese High School.
Books are chosen that are no more than two years old and that are from a variety of backgrounds and across a wide range of reading abilities.

Students who read five books (four for Middle School and three for High School books) in any category will be eligible to vote for their favourite. Votes will then be tallied across all participating schools and the winning author in each category will receive a Sakura Medal.

While staff and parents are encouraged to participate, voting is only open to students.
Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossoms, which are celebrated in Japan each year as a sign of spring.

COVID-19 Update: Parents - there has never been a better time for you and your child to pick up a book! You may browse by school age, location, and book type in the sidebar. All books here are recommended by a committee of 60+ International School Librarians in Japan for the annual Sakura Medal Book Award.

The City on the Other Side - Mairghread Scott

The City on the Other Side - Mairghread Scott

In The City on the Other Side, a young girl stumbles into a pitched war between two fairy kingdoms, and the fate of San Francisco itself hangs in the balance!

Sheltered within her high-society world, Isabel plays the part of a perfectly proper little girl—she’s quiet, well-behaved, and she keeps her dresses spotlessly clean. She’s certainly not the kind of girl who goes on adventures.

But that all changes when Isabel breaches an invisible barrier and steps into another world. She discovers a city not unlike her own, but magical and dangerous. Here, war rages between the fairies of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Only Isabel, with the help of a magical necklace and a few new friends, stands a chance of ending the war before it destroys the fairy world, and her own.

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Gordon: Bark to the Future - Ashley Spires

Gordon: Bark to the Future - Ashley Spires

Now Gordon will have to fight the enemy alone! Even his distress calls to P.U.R.S.T. (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) have gone unanswered. But Gordon’s never been much of a fighter — his deadliest weapon is his mind. So what’s a genius dog to do?

Time travel, of course! He’ll use his new time machine to stop the invasion before it happens. But something goes wrong, and Gordon travels back too far! And he’s out of fuel! Will Gordon be able to save himself, his friends and his humans? And get back to the future?
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Mr. Wolf's Class - Aron Nels Steinke

Mr. Wolf's Class - Aron Nels Steinke

Mr. Wolf has just started teaching at Hazelwood Elementary. He wants the first day of school to go well, but he's got his hands full with his new class. Some of his students include: Margot, who is new in town and is trying to make friends. Sampson, who brought something special to school for show-and-tell. Aziza, who just wants everyone to be quiet and do their work. And Penny, who is VERY sleepy because she has a new baby brother at home, goes missing! This delightful new series captures the everyday -- and unexpected -- ups and downs of a fourth-grade classroom.
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Sparks! - Ian Boothby

Sparks! - Ian Boothby

August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn't afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit!

Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don't let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She's clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.
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Tiger vs Nightmare - Emily Tetri

Tiger vs Nightmare - Emily Tetri

Tiger is a very lucky kid: she has a monster living under her bed. Every night, Tiger and Monster play games until it’s time for lights out. Of course, Monster would never try to scare Tiger―that’s not what best friends do.

But Monster needs to scare someone…it’s a monster, after all. So while Tiger sleeps, Monster scares all of her nightmares away. Thanks to her friend, Tiger has nothing but good dreams. But waiting in the darkness is a nightmare so big and mean that Monster can’t fight it alone. Only teamwork and a lot of bravery can chase this nightmare away.
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Cardboard Kingdom - Chad Sell

Cardboard Kingdom - Chad Sell

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters--and their own inner demons--on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be--imagine that!
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Apocalypse Taco - Nathan Hale

Apocalypse Taco - Nathan Hale

Sid, Axl, and Ivan volunteer to make a late-night fast-food run for the high school theater crew, and when they return, they find themselves. Not in a deep, metaphoric sense: They find copies of themselves onstage. As they look closer, they begin to realize that the world around them isn’t quite right. Turns out, when they went to the taco place across town, they actually crossed into an alien dimension that’s eerily similar to their world. The aliens have made sinister copies of cars, buildings, and people—and they all want to get Sid, Axl, and Ivan. Now the group will have to use their wits, their truck, and even their windshield scraper to escape! But they may be too late. They may now be copies themselves . . .
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Click or Camp - Kayla Miller

Click or Camp - Kayla Miller

Olive is sure she’ll have the best time at summer camp with her friend Willow – but while Olive makes quick friends with the other campers, Willow struggles to form connections and latches on to the only person she knows – Olive. It’s s’more than Olive can handle! The stress of being Willow's living security blanket begins to wear on Olive and before long…the girls aren’t just fighting, they may not even be friends by the time camp is over. Will the two be able to patch things up before the final lights out?
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Sanity and Tallulah - Molly Brooks

Sanity and Tallulah - Molly Brooks

Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn't long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it's too late?
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Peter and Ernesto - Graham Annable

Peter and Ernesto - Graham Annable

Peter and Ernesto love the jungle, but they know how dangerous it can be at night. From clumsy bats to crazed owls to rumors of a dragon, there are countless things that make the darkness perilous for sloths.

That’s why, one day, when their friend Bernard goes missing just as the sun is setting, Peter and Ernesto quickly gather their tribe to form a search party. However, while these sloths have some sense of the dangers that they’ll face while looking for Bernard, there are surprises lurking in the shadows that will surpass their wildest imaginings!
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The Doughnut Kingdom (Cucumber Quest Bk. 1) - Gigi D. G

The Doughnut Kingdom (Cucumber Quest Bk. 1) - Gigi D. G

What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction?

World domination, obviously.

The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they'll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight.

Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour?

Sure, why not?
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How to Spot a Sasquatch - J. Torres

How to Spot a Sasquatch - J. Torres

On a camping trip with the Junior Rangers, Jay feels like the odd one out. He’s determined to get a photo of Bigfoot―but none of his friends believe Bigfoot exists. But if there’s no such thing as Bigfoot, why is there a giant footprint? And who is stealing all the snacks?

Meanwhile, Sass the Sasquatch and her curious forest friends are playing practical jokes on the campers. On the last day of camp, disaster strikes when Jay falls into a rushing river. Sass comes out of the woodwork―despite her parents’ warnings to stay away from humans!―just in time to save his life. Soon after, Jay and Sass become fast friends, proving that nothing is impossible when it comes to friendship.
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Award winning English childrens books
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The Sakura Medal Book Award Winners

The Sakura Medal Book Award Nominees

The Sakura Medal Book Award Authors and Schools

Book type

Story Location

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The Sakura Medal Schools Book Award Japan
Preschool English story books
relating to the time before a child is old enough to go to school.
Graphic Novels
a novel in comic-strip format.
synonyms: comic, comic book, cartoon; manga
Picture books
a book containing many illustrations, especially one for children.
High School Books
For high school students
Chapter Books
A story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7-10
Early Reader
The first books that children will be able to read independently.
Jolly Phonics
The very best texts available to help students learn to read and write.
Jolly Phonics website
Jolly Phonics And The UK National Curriculum
Parent/Teacher Guide. English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian versions.
Free Parent & Teacher Resources
Setting
International School students are very often interested in where the story is located. If it plays a key role in the story and is mentioned in the blurb then it has been tagged
All-new Kindle Kids Edition - Includes access to thousands of books - Rainbow Birds Cover

How to read books aloud

Teaching tips
• Ensure all students / your children can see the book
• Allow students to settle before you begin reading. Turn of nearby computers or TVs to avoid distractions
• Allow time for students to absorb the illustrations on each page before reading the text
• Different voices for each character are engaging for students and fun for you if you are reading the story multiple times - if you can keep track of voices of the characters
• Inform your audience of the author and illustrator so they may ask for the story again and foster an interest in writers and drawing
• Take your time
• There is no need to be shy. Children will delight in listening to you

How often should you read with your child?
• Everyday
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