International Association
of School Librarianship

International School Library Month

October is International School Library Month (ISLM), an annual celebration of school libraries worldwide. Find ways you can lead the celebration participate and advocate for the importance of school libraries, library professionals, and the students that make them great!


ISLM 2021

The 2021 theme for ISLM is “Fairy Tales and Folk Tales around the World.” It is based on the 2021 IASL Conference theme “A Rich Tapestry of Practice and Research Around the World.” The line “Once upon a time. . .” immediately takes us all to the magical world of books, through which we get a sneak peek into the lives of fairies, goblins, pixies and more. There are stories that have been passed down from many generations about the past which teach us about human values and culture. Let us connect and learn more about different countries worldwide through the medium of stories.

This year we are inviting participants to think about and celebrate the link between books, reading, school libraries, fairy tales and folk tales. We have chosen a theme wording that we believe will be accessible to all our participants (aged 3 to 20 years). We are inviting them to celebrate ISLM 2021 by engaging in projects and activities to explore and express this year’s theme. We hope that ISLM 2021 will be a wonderfully creative, imaginative worldwide celebration of the school library. The theme can be interpreted in many ways, but whichever way we choose, it underlies the importance of school libraries.

The ISLM team facilitates a number of activities that you might like to participate in as part of the celebration and no doubt you will also have your own ideas for how best to make the most of ISLM in your libraries. No matter how big or small your school library is, please consider getting involved.

ISLM is open to everyone, whether you are a member of IASL or not, so spread the word and start gearing up for an exciting time with ISLM this October! And remember, you can share your fantastic ISLM experiences with everyone by sending written testimonies and photos to our “What People Are Doing for ISLM” page.

For general queries about ISLM, please contact me at: islmbookworm2012@gmail.com

Check out more details under “New ISLM Initiatives…..”

The ISLM Team is a group of volunteers whose enthusiasm for school libraries has prompted them to join the ISLM Committee to work together to organize and facilitate International School Library Month. We welcome queries about new members at any time and are particularly seeking members from countries not represented by current members. We look forward to working with you to make your ISLM a successful and enjoyable event this year.

Yours sincerely,

Ramandeep, Chairperson, ISLM 2021

Your 2021 ISLM Team: Ramandeep (India), Francie Ingram (USA), Breege O’Brien (Ireland), Sunita Malekar (India), Hosea Tokwe (Zimbabwe), Dr. Chhavi Jain (India), Seema Satti (India), Inez Kinanthi (Indonesia), Abha Singh (India), Orlova Svetlana (Russia), Teresa Quick (USA), Jerry Mathema (Zimbabwe), Grace Masunda Mulife Malambo (Zambia), Farhat Jabeen (Pakistan), Thackson Kalulu (Malawi), Debra Squire (Australia), Sigridur Halldora Gunnarsdottir (Iceland).

JUNE 2021

ISLM 2021 Poster & Bookmarks

2021 ISLM Poster: COMING SOON

2021 ISLM Bookmarks: COMING SOON

ISLM Projects

Bookmark Exchange Project - Match with other schools around the world and exchange homemade bookmarks made by your students. Bookmark exchanges are made by post. Check back soon for 2021 registration and information!

Digital Bookmark Exchange Project - Match with other schools around the world and exchange homemade bookmarks made by your students. Bookmark exchanges are virtually. Check back soon for 2021 registration and information!

Virtual Connections Around the World Project - Would your students like to talk to others in a faraway country during International School Library Month? The trick is finding someone in a time zone where you can link up via Skype/ Zoom or MS Teams. Connect your classroom with other students around the world through Skype/ Zoom/ MS Teams.

Aussie Books for Zim - a special option for those in Australia. 

Great Reads Awards Reading Activity - reading activity related to the Great Reads Reading Award. 

The Corona Multimedia Showcasean international celebration of creativity in the time of a pandemic.

Well Being Through Reading a digital platform for continually monitoring the link between a student’s attitude to reading and their wellbeing.


ISLM Resources


ISLM Past Projects

Click here to view ISLM Projects submitted by school libraries from around the world from 2013-2020.


What People Are Doing for ISLM

What People are doing for ISLM - Submit your "What people are doing" report by December 13, 2021.

Isn’t it fun to talk about your creative work with others? Isn't bringing stories to life a joyful experience ? How exciting it is to listen to the tales woven around the world! So, we encourage the participants to tell us about their journey of doing this activity through a short video of about 1 to 2 minutes. We would love to know more about you and your work.  So, kindly mention your name, name of the school, grade, describe your artwork, and include a little message for ISLM.


Other Ideas for ISLM

If you do not wish to sign up for any of the activities being coordinated by ISLM for October you can still organize your own events to celebrate International School Library Month. No doubt you will have plenty of ideas of your own, but here are some suggestions based on the 2019 theme, Let’s Imagine!

1.     Creative Writing: organize creative writing activities for your students…. poetry writing, short story writing, descriptive pieces … To assist and support your students use tools such as writing frames, creative modeling, visual stimulants, etc. 

2.     A poetry reading: hold a poetry reading in the school library/in the classroom where students read poems they have written themselves OR read poems they choose in which the world created by the poet appeals to them  

3.     Posters: invite your students to create posters inspired/imagined by the books they are reading. This also works well for poems your students are reading.  A3 size works well for this.

4.     One hundred years from now….: invite your students to imagine their school library 100 years from now. Or, to imagine their village/town/country, etc 100 years from now. Ask them to either describe it in words or present it visually, or in a 3D form or musical form. 

5.     Our World ……: place focuses on the global issues of environment, climate change, conservation, recycling, flooding, or a  relevant local issue of your choice, etc. by inviting your students to do some research on one of these topics, and make a digital presentation on it in the classroom, in the school library or via an online medium.

6.     Our World …… imagine what our world will be like in 20 years time/50 years time etc. OR what your students would like it to be like etc.

The resources in your school library can provide a body of information to your students for #4 and #5 above. 

7.     A themed reading assignment: Choose any topic. Draw up a list of titles that contain that topic as a theme and invite your students to read from that list to imagine what life is like for people in different circumstances eg. themes such as disability, diversity, LGBT issues, racism, fighting adversity, being refugees, domestic violence, overcoming a challenge, etc.

8.     Reading broadens the imagination, so organize any reading activity of your choice.

9.     Book Buffet, to encourage the reading of a variety of books…. Here’s a reading activity that would give students an opportunity to read from books other than the genre they usually opt for.

Some organizational guidelines. …..

  • Choose an area that can accommodate separate reading points for the number of students in your class group. In a school library, the number of participants is dictated by the library space and the number of spaced-out reading points it can set up.

  • Select a number of different genres of books (if you know the reading preferences of your participants, select the kind your participants would not usually opt for).

  • Place a book at each reading point.

  • Seat each student at a different reading point and invite them to read from the book placed there for a period of uninterrupted time. The reader can start from any point in the book eg. the opening chapter, any arbitrary point in the book, etc.  Usually, they should read for at least 10 minutes.

  • After the reading period is up eg 10-15 minutes, the participants move on to the next reading point and repeat the activity.

In this way, participants read from different genres and may be interested to read further in their own time from the selected titles or from titles of a similar genre.  

“Book Buffet is a time-based reading activity where students get to taste (to know) different genres. In the library, tables and chairs can be arranged to give it a look of a buffet table using table cloths, paper plates, name tags (of genres). Set a timer, say to 10 minutes or less (according to library schedule). Place the books of different genres on different tables and make sure that each child will get one book every time the timer buzz goes off. If you have placed 5 books of 5 genres then each student will taste 25 books. Do provide students with a piece of paper and pen so that they can write down a little about the book they have tasted. And during the library period they can read the full book that they find the best during the activity”.

10.  Book Bingo: another version of the reading activity is to create a bingo card and invite your students to read a type of book. Once they have completed a row, vertically, horizontally, diagonally, etc they receive a reward for it eg. a book token, a greeting card, a postcard, etc, and if they complete a whole card they receive an appropriate reward eg. a book poster, a book, etc

An example of a bingo card would be as follows:


11    Book displays: arrange a display of books in your library that creates awareness of authors who depict certain types of worlds in their books eg a fantasy world, a historical worlds, a parallel world, a world of war, etc

12    For seniors Focus on Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell: Orwell’s classic novel, first published in 1949 (50 years ago this year) imagined a future world in 1984. Invite your students to read Orwell’s book (or selected extracts from it) and hold a class discussion to compare how Orwell imagines life in 1984, with life as it actually was in 1984, and the way it is today.

13   Book Talk: organize a discussion between students and teacher/school librarian about their favorite books and/or authors.

14   Share a story/folktale: invite parents and/or grandparents with different cultural backgrounds to read a folktale from their own culture and to come to the event dressed in their specific national or ethnic costume.

A different version of this activity is to invite the adults to read a story in their native (primary) language.

15   Act Out:  organize senior students to go to primary classes to read and act out a story or selection of stories using props. This can be an interaction with a very imaginative element for both senior students acting out the story and for junior students as the audience.

16   Author/Illustrator Visit: organize an author visit. Questions from students for the author could be prepared with a focus on this year’s theme eg. where authors get ideas for their stories from, what inspires them, how they shape and develop those ideas ie. the process from idea to published book. For illustrators, they could be asked to describe the process from the idea to the page with a focus on developing the visuals in the book.  

17   Library Scavenger Hunt/Treasure Hunt:  

  • Hide books, library material, etc. in all areas of the school under the supervision of teachers.

  • The activity is time-based.

  • Form teams.

  • Give team leaders a list of prepared clues, a kind of map, to help them find the hidden materials

  • The hunt begins and ends in the library.

  • To complete the activity, each team’s map, signed by each member, must be handed over.  

18  Storybooks:  Storybooks can be as simple or sophisticated as you wish depending on the age range of your participants. Students can create storybooks based on any theme or idea, fiction or non-fiction. For non-fiction, they can gather information on a specific topic and create storybooks based on their research. Completed storybooks can be put on display in an exhibition.

If groups are participating in any of the partnered ISLM activities, a version of this activity can be done in conjunction with the partner group/school.  Students gather information about the partner school’s country, write their stories and made storybooks.

Prepared by the ISLM Team 2021


Other Initiatives

ISLM Projects Participation Certificate: Claim your ISLM 2021 Project Certificate by clicking here.

ISLM FREELISTS: Keep yourself updated with ISLM happenings around the year, sign up. IASL has created a listserv specifically for those who have an interest in ISLM. Please use the following link to sign up for the listserv in order to receive the latest news about ISLM. Thank you for supporting IASL & participating in ISLM. Sign up here: https://www.freelists.org/list/iaslislm

JOIN TEAM ISLM: Be a part of Team ISLM by filling the ISLM Recruitment Form 2022. Click ISLM Recruitment Form 2022: COMING SOON…..


Updated 17 June 2021

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