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.

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Penguin Problems by Jory John (Author), Lane Smith (Illustrations)

Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?
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Tokyo Digs a Garden

Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano (Author), Kellen Hatanaka (Illustrations)

Tokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings with his family and his cat, Kevin. For years, highways and skyscrapers have been built up around the family s house where once there were hills and trees. Will they ever experience the natural world again?
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School's First Day of School

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex (Author), Christian Robinson (Illustrations)

It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him? The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he's not the only one going through first-day jitters.
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Chicken Nugget by Michelle Robinson

Chicken Nugget by Michelle Robinson, Tom McLaughlin (Illustrations)

Chicken Nugget is a hilarious new picture book by Michelle Robinson and Tom McLaughlin. My name is Nugget. Chicken Nugget. This is my family. I'm the smallest. And when you're the smallest, nobody ever listens. When Nugget's long-lost-cousin Franz turns up, all isn't quite as it seems. There's definitely something fishy - or foxy - about this chicken. This is Nugget's chance to save the day, because sometimes the bravest hero of all is just a little chicken.
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Circle by Jeannie Baker

Circle by Jeannie Baker (Author-Illustrator)
Each year, bar-tailed godwits undertake the longest migration of any bird, flying from Australia and New Zealand to their breeding grounds in the Arctic and back again. They follow invisible pathways pathways that have been followed for thousands of years while braving hunger and treacherous conditions to reach their destination. In Circle,Jeannie Baker follows the godwit s incredible flight, taking us over awe-inspiring scenes as the birds spread their wings above such beautiful landmarks as the Great Barrier Reef and China s breathtaking cityscapes.
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The Black and White Factory

The Black and White Factory by Eric Telchin (Author), Diego Funck (Illustrations)
Welcome to the Black and White Factory! Penguin, zebra, and panda will take you on a top-secret tour to see some black and white products that are made here, like salt and pepper shakers, dice, half decks of playing cards (only spades and clubs!), chess pieces, and tuxedos, in addition to a few special experimental projects. There are a few rules, though: No messes; No colors; No surprises allowed; EVER. But when the tour gets to the bar code room, some color has seeped in! It's up to the reader to try and rub it off and tilt the book so that it comes off, but nothing works!
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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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