Thursday, April 24, 2014

From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today's guest blogger, Shirin Petit. Shirin is the main buyer and test-reader for the school library at DSB International School in Mumbai India. Her colleagues insist she has the best job in the school! She also manages Technology Integration for the school, and is the Computer teacher. In the past, she has also taught Kindergarten, Grade 1 and EAL. Originally from Montreal, Canada, Shirin has lived all across Canada and in Japan. She now lives in Mumbai, India. She does not often get around to blogging and sometimes tweets.

Shirin Petit

I have been buying books for our very small (but growing!) school library for almost 10 years. We are in Mumbai India, but our students come from all over the world. When I joined the school, there were only 50 students, ranging in age from 3 to 11. Now we have 200 students from 3 to 17, and we are continuing to grow. In the beginning, developing the library was a struggle as it was hard to find the books we wanted. We would scour the few bookstores, take any hand-me-downs from families, and sometimes beg parents to load some books in their suitcases.

Getting the books we want has become much easier now with online retailers like Amazon, and we are very lucky to be able to keep acquiring as many new books as we need. For me the fun, and the challenge, is making sure we have the books we want our kids to discover, the books our kids want to read, and the books we want to share.

Because our school is small, I am able to work at matching the book to the teacher, or the class, or the child, because I am able to get to know all of them and what they are interested in.

We had great success in a Grade 1 class with a very artistic teacher when I gave her Iggy Peck, Architect, by Andrea Beaty.

Iggy’s natural architectural inclination inspired some truly imaginative artwork and architectural creations.

The Grade 4 class with some integration issues has loved their Wonder read-aloud. it has provided them with a forum for discussing their own acceptance of difference in their class.



Press Here, the beautifully simple and joyful book by Herve Tulet made the rounds of teachers who needed to smile, and their ideas for using it in the classroom were limitless.

I always return to Jon Muth’s books, The Three Questions and Zen Shorts for a teacher who wants to spend time with a class and reflect upon their personal journeys.

Our high school English teachers grabbed Mirror, Mirror and refused to let go. This remarkable book not only reverses the poem, but it also reverses the story.

Finding the book that helps someone in their classroom is always a joy for me, but nothing is more satisfying that matching a student with a good book. Recently, as I was passing through a Grade 5 class reading in the library, I pulled some books off the shelves and offered them to some of the kids there. One of the boys asked for special permission to take extra books home. And three days later, his parents came up to thank me for finding him books he wanted to read and letting him take them all home. They were thrilled that he had five books in his library bag. What books had he chosen?

Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal

The Fourth Stall, by Chris Rylander
Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, by Christopher Healy

Flush, by Carl Hiaasen

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan
Thank you Shirin for sharing some of your wonderful finds. I am never going to forget your comment about making available books you want to share AND books kids want to read (of course, these are not mutually exclusive). Good luck continuing to grow your library!


  1. For the students who enjoy The Rangers Apprentice books, try the Gone books, the Phoenix Files and the Ship Kings.