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2021 AES Stein Library Annual Report: A Joyful Pursuit of Excellence

Annual Report header

The American Embassy School libraries support the AES Mission. The libraries encourage “inspired lifelong learning” and support all areas of the AES curriculum. Literacy, literature appreciation, inquiry, and collaboration are key components of the library programs. Both libraries’ welcoming environments provide access to current, relevant resources.

You are invited to look at all three pages of this report by clicking on the three tabs above. 

Laurie Halse Anderson


Laurie Halse Anderson was our visiting author - virtually - throughout the school year. Laurie was supposed to visit us on campus in February of 2020, and because of COVID her visit was rescheduled for October of 2020 . . . and when we realized that the October visit was also not going to happen, we decided to go online. Laurie came to us from Pennsylvania in the US, and was very accommodating with her time. She worked with students at every grade level, and every session was unique.

Laurie's historical novel Fever 1793, about an epidemic, seemed especially relevant during this pandemic year. Her middle school sessions were mainly focused on her historical fiction books, and she offered research and writing advice to all of the students that was tailored to what they were working on in their classes. Her high school sessions featured more of her young adult writing, including Speak, which many of our students have read.

All of Laurie's sessions with AES were recorded for use by our community. If you'd like the links to the videos, please email Ms. Hoiseth.

"I liked how Laurie was able to share not only her successes but also her struggles. It made it easier to relate to and I was given some strategies to improve my writing." - Grade 10 student

"I liked how her story of writing is just like ours. We research for info and then we write." - a middle school student

Battle of the Books - Middle School

Five eager middle school students: Anya Ramani, Anna Bae, Aarkin Soni, Patrick Gillen, and Chloe Bartness, read 15 books and met weekly to quiz each other in preparation for the International Battle of the Books. They competed against 11 teams from ABA in Muscat, ACS in Abu Dhabi, and the Woodstock School. The AES Tigers took 3rd place overall, and more importantly, had a great time reading and talking about books!

Aarkin Soni said, "This competition opened a new realm of books and strategies to understand the book. Further, I made new friends even though it was online. Also, this was one of the best experiences I had this academic year.” Anya Ramani, who created the logo for the competition, said, "One of the reasons I liked battle of the books so much was because you get to try out new genres that maybe you wouldn’t usually pick, and you also get to discuss it with others!"

Welcome Dr. Faze

Dr. Chris Fazenbaker, currently a high school Spanish teacher at AES, will be the MS/HS teacher-librarian next year. Dr. Faze has experience working in a university library and a public library in Orange County, CA, and was formerly the MS/HS librarian at Seoul International School. She is looking forward to working with students and teachers to develop research skills and to talk about books and stories and all things reading!

Visual Storytelling

Author Laurie Halse Anderson was in conversation with author/illustrator Jonathan Hill and the AES community on the process of writing for the graphic novel. Laurie spoke about adapting Speak for the graphic novel and her process of writing Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed. Jonathan spoke about authoring and illustrating Odessa.

"I liked how they shared their own experience, challenges they had and how to revise. I learned that primary sources are important for writing historical novels. I learned that process of editing and revising our work is super important. And keeping notes." - a MS student


"It was more than I expected. I had such a genuine and educational experience. Hearing Jonathan talk about graphic novels was also eye-opening." - a grade 10 student

Top RBDigital Titles


RBDigital, our e-magazine platform, was bought out by Overdrive, and our subscription will move to the Sora platform. While the transition is happening, we won't have access to new digital magazines until August.

Top Print Titles

Farewell Ms. Hoiseth


After three years at AES, Ms. Hoiseth is moving on to be the high school librarian at the American School of Dubai. "I've loved my time at AES! I'm thankful for the amazing students and colleagues I've had the opportunity to work with. I'm proud of the changes we've made to the library space and collection during my time here: transforming the Tagore Room, moving the circulation desk and other furniture to create pockets of seating, updating signs and labels, and weeding the collection so we have more space to display books."

MESAC in the Library

We were happy to support two virtual MESAC events in the library. The library was the center of operations for Academic Games, with faculty readers using the study rooms to play their role. For speech and debate, AES coaches and judges based themselves in the library to have access to reliable internet and to be able to ask questions of each other.

Previous Annual Reports

Curbside Checkout

The libraries continued to offer Gate 2 pickup of library books all year long, fulfilling almost 1000 requests since the program started last summer. This is a way for students who are learning off-campus and for parents to continue to access the library collection, and it is likely something that will continue post-pandemic. We appreciate the help of the AES security team who helps get the books to our patrons!

"I like that the library is able to provide resources and books even if we are all online or in lockdown." -  Grade 8 student

Jack Gantos


Author Jack Gantos spent two weeks online with AES from his home in Boston, presenting to every grade in the school. This was Jack's second visit to AES, and while we would have preferred an in-person visit, his virtual visit was pretty great. 

Jack is an amazing storyteller, and his story-mapping technique was something that all students could take away. He encouraged the students to revise as much as they can, and his idea of visual research was especially helpful for the middle school students. The high school students appreciated his honest discussion about making mistakes in life and overcoming them. 

All of Jack's sessions with AES were recorded for use by our community. If you'd like links to any of the videos, please email. Ms. Hoiseth.

"I learned that you should never give up on your dreams because if you persevere you can achieve it. I liked that he told us stories about his childhood, I found it interesting to compare it with our teenage or childhood today." - Grade 9 student

"It was an educational and interesting experience. He was very open about his past and specifically his childhood resonated with what I experience on a daily basis, for that matter I really enjoyed his stay. I was able to learn that creativity can come in different dimensions, and people can make mistakes, but if they learn from it it can actually lead them to where they want to be." - Grade 10 student

"I liked how he showed pictures and kind of told a story about his childhood. I learned that we can find story ideas in our everyday lives by keeping a journal and looking at our favourite books for inspiration. Even though sometimes there might not be anything interesting, looking at other people’s lives we can find things we never would’ve known." - a middle school student

Top Readers Per Grade

Updating the physical collection

The library team is always working to freshen up the print collection. This year we added some new signage, weeded much of the fiction section, and created a new International Languages section.

"I like that the library is easy to find a particular book because everything is labeled and easy to see." - Grade 6 student

Book Club

A group of middle school students met during their lunchtime to talk about the featured book that month and play the occasional Kahoot. Here's the list of books the book club read:

Top Titles on Sora