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.

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again - Santat Dan

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again - Santat, Dan

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?
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Alma and How She Got Her Name - Martinez-Neal Juana

Alma and How She Got Her Name - Martinez-Neal, Juana

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell.
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Arthur and the Golden Rope - Todd-Stanton Joe

Arthur and the Golden Rope - Todd-Stanton, Joe

Imagine a vault so cavernous that it could contain all the world's greatest treasures and relics, from mummified remains of ancient monarchs to glistening swords brandished by legendary warriors. Who could be in charge of such a vault and how did he come into possession of such a unique collection? Who is...Professor Brownstone?
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Bad Seed - John Jory

Bad Seed - John, Jory

This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know?

He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy?
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Dragon Was Terrible - DiPucchio Kelly

Dragon Was Terrible - DiPucchio, Kelly

We all know dragons are terrible, but this one is especially terrible. He scribbles in books. He steals candy from baby unicorns. He even burps in church. Seriously, who does that? Dragon, that's who. The king, the knights, and the villagers are desperate to take down this beast once and for all. But sometimes it's up to the unlikeliest of heroes to tame a dragon this terrible.
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Florette - Walker Anna

Florette - Walker, Anna

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Mae’s story, gorgeously illustrated in watercolor, is a celebration of friendship, resilience in the face of change, and the magic of the natural world.
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Her Right Foot - Eggers Dave

Her Right Foot - Eggers, Dave

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you'd mention the Statue of Liberty.

Have you seen her?

She's in New York.
She's holding a torch.
And she's in mid-stride, moving forward.
But why?

In this fascinating and fun take on nonfiction for kids, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America's most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty's right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential of an entire country's creation.

An ideal patriotic gift for kids, this book as received accolades from a number of reputable publications:
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Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth - Jeffers Oliver

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth - Jeffers, Oliver

Oliver Jeffers, arguably the most influential creator of picture books today, offers a rare personal look inside his own hopes and wishes for his child--and in doing so gifts children and parents everywhere with a gently sweet and humorous missive about our world and those who call it home.

Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers' user's guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet's terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver's signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.
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Mama Lion Wins the Race - Muth Jon J

Mama Lion Wins the Race - Muth, Jon J.

Start your engines: The race is on! And Mama Lion and Tigey are off -- with their cool goggles and snazzy sports car!

Racing teams gather from far and wide for this madcap race. But who will take home the big trophy? Will it be the playful Flying Pandinis? The mischievous Knitted Monkey crew? Or will Mama Lion and Tigey speed past the finish line in first place?

While everyone hopes to win, it's the journey itself -- filled with joy, beauty, fun, and friendships -- that is the best prize of all.
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Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth - Davies Nicola

Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth - Davies, Nicola

The more we study the world around us, the more living things we discover every day. The planet is full of millions of species of plants, birds, animals, and microbes, and every single one — including us — is part of a big, beautiful, complicated pattern. When humans interfere with parts of the pattern, by polluting the air and oceans, taking too much from the sea, and cutting down too many forests, animals and plants begin to disappear. What sort of world would it be if it went from having many types of living things to having just one? In a beautiful follow-up, the creators of the award-winning Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes deliver an inspiring look at the extraordinary diversity of Earth’s inhabitants — and the importance of their preservation.
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Mrs Mole I'm Home - Jarvis

Mrs. Mole, I'm Home! - Jarvis

Poor Morris Mole has had a very long day, and all he wants is to get home to Mrs. Mole and their children. But Morris has misplaced his glasses! He starts burrowing his way home anyway, trusting in his memory to guide him. When Morris gets there he calls out, “Mrs. Mole, I’m hooome!” but he doesn’t exactly get the response he expected. “I’m not your wife!” says Mrs. Bunny. Oh, dear! So Morris sets off again in the direction of home. He’ll end up in the right spot eventually . . . won’t he? Young readers will be rooting for Morris and giggling at every wrong turn — while taking comfort in the fact that, sooner or later, you’ll always find your way home.
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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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