Literacy at HIS

Hokkaido International School is an international boarding school that not only values the outdoors, the arts, and service, but also literacy. In short, we promote a life that values reading and writing.

Beginning as early as age three, much focus is placed on human creativity and expression. HIS values the power of the individual, centering our approach on student interests and curiosity beginning with Emilio Reggio's "The Hundred Languages of Children" and continuing on with more inquiry-based education. Throughout their career at HIS, student interests are developed and refined through the five modalities of language: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking. Students are given many opportunities to express themselves through language and the arts. Considering reading as foundational, classroom libraries are curated to include classic and modern titles of great interest to students, while choice is provided to foster a growing identity as an expressive and literate individual. 

“There is massive evidence that self-selected reading, or reading what you want to read, is responsible for most of our literacy development. Readers have better reading ability, know more vocabulary, write better, spell better, and have better control of complex grammatical constructions. In fact, it is impossible to develop high levels of literacy without being a dedicated reader, and dedicated readers rarely have serious problems in reading and writing.” ― Dr. Stephen D. Krashen

Beginning in grade 6, students have opportunities to showcase their literacy through two signature programs: HIS Reads and HIS Writes. 

HIS Reads began in 2015 with the goal to provide students with opportunities to not only better their close and careful reading skills but to also grow their personal character and to broaden their understanding of the wider world. Many students have also attributed HIS Reads as the program that provided them with confidence to speak in front of a large audience. Throughout the year, students work to defend books of choice in front of peers and teachers, all leading toward the HIS Reads Qualifiers where the best defenders will be selected by our special judges to compete in the finals. The HIS Reads Finals take place each year in June, where 16 students compete in front of an audience of secondary peers, judges, and community members. In 2023, the HIS Reads Finals expanded to the HIS Literacy Celebration, bringing in its companion: HIS Writes.

HIS Writes began in 2021 as a way to complement HIS Reads. Writing is the way we capture our thoughts and organize our creativity. Creative writing allows us to better understand the way characters develop when faced with opposition and conflict. Struggle, through the story world, the creation of the story world through writing, and within our everyday lives is paramount in developing ourselves into people who will contribute positively to the world.  HIS Writes honors the power of story.

“The story world isn't a copy of life as it is. It's life as human beings imagine it could be. It is human life condensed and heightened so that the audience can gain a better understanding of how life itself works.” ― John Truby, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

When we read more, we read better. When we read better, we understand more about people and the worlds around people. When we write, we begin to capture our evolving thinking as we better understand who we are and how life, itself, works.

More information on both of these programs can be found on their pages and through the posts below. Thank you for supporting the reading and writing life.

The 2023 HIS Reads Literacy Celebration