When I began working as an international school counselor in the fall of 1993, I quickly learned that one of my best resources was the school librarian. She helped me find the books I used in my guidance classes with elementary students to address a variety of challenging topics.
However, mainstream publishers have shunned stories specifically written for the tens of thousands of international school students around the globe. In my discussions with literary agents, I have been told that a market specifically for international school students was too limited and lacked the broad appeal mainstream publishers required.
Thanks to the advent and ease of self-publishing, I decided to enlist a “village” of international school professionals to help me begin to fill this void. Together we created a book that follows the story of Grade 5 twins, Patrick and Patricia (aka X-Pats), as they leave their home country and start new adventures abroad at an international school. It is written as a chapter book to appeal to elementary-age readers, but it closes with a discussion section for use by parents, counselors, and teachers.
The book was shared, shredded, and put back together with the help of current and retired international school counselors, teachers, principals, and heads of school. A Grade 4 elementary classroom at Frankfurt International School tested it as a read-aloud and these keen students also offered insightful edits. A book group of expatriate parents also took it on as a pet project to check it for authenticity and usefulness for families.
Mark Ulfers, Executive Director of the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) has said of X-Pats, “It’s an important addition to the bookshelves of international classrooms and families preparing to move overseas. X-PATS is full of humor and insights that children will enjoy, as well as wisdom for expatriate parents, too.”
While I am sharing this news with you in the hope that you might consider X-PATS for your own students, more importantly, this is a call for those working in international schools to find a way to tell the unique stories that come from our campuses. Stories that will prepare children and families for the twists and turns of the backroads we travel within our vibrant overseas communities. Such stories should captivate students, but also have child and adult readers nod with new understandings as they see themselves, their classmates, and their families in the lines of a story that is uniquely theirs.
X-Pats: A World Turned Upside Down is available internationally from Amazon, with all profits donated to UNICEF.
Alec Aspinwall is the Director of Admissions and Advancement at Frankfurt International School and is also the author of the children’s book, “I’ll Be The Water,” published by Tilbury House.