School readers

June 2023: Mick Smith, incoming COBIS Director of Accreditation. 

Consililum Education library specialist, Sal Flint starts a new column this month – School Readers – in which she talks to educators about three of their favourite books.

We all urge kids to read, but how has reading shaped our own personal and professional lives? I want to know which three books have most influenced the people I talk to – a novel, a work of non-fiction and a ‘go-to’ book about education.

My first School Reader is Mick Smith who takes over as the Director of Accreditation at COBIS in July.

A hugely experienced international school teacher, Mick was Secondary School Principal at Bangkok Patana School and IB Coordinator at the International School of Tanganyika.

He is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. A teacher of History, Mick confesses he is far more likely to be seen reading a historical biography or a good novel rather than a tome about educational theory.

These are his ‘three books’:



(Click on the book covers to follow the link to Amazon)

1. Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov

“It is almost impossible to choose a single work of fiction” Mick says. “I am quite traditional in that I like to be swept away by plot, characters and the creation of a fictional world so vivid that I feel completely immersed in it. Joseph Conrad, Peter Carey, Ben Okri, VS Naipaul and Vikram Seth are firm favourites. I’ve always said The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky is the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but a close second would be Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Peter Carey’s Illywhacker, or Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music.

What it’s about:

First published in 1880, The Brothers Karamazov is a classic crime novel that according to Mick, just pulls you in! He’s not alone – it has been loved by generations.


2. Roy Jenkins: William Gladstone

 “I love political history and biographies although I find it impossible not to get so bogged down in detail that it takes me ages to finish them. My all-time favourites would be the brilliant studies of William Gladstone by Roy Jenkins and Winston Churchill also by Jenkins. I know that’s two but I can’t separate them! These biographies get down to the detail and show why they both inspired such contradictory responses from contemporaries and later generations.
What it’s about:
What it says on the tin! The life of the 19th Century British statesman that unpicks all the complexities of its paradoxical subject.



3. Philip A. Woods: Democratic Leadership in Education

“I do struggle a bit with some books about education, especially if they are a bit ‘jargony’! However, I have enjoyed reading work by experienced educators and writers who share practical ways forward. These have included experts such as John Adair, Michael Fullan, Dylan Wiliam and John Hattie. The single most influential book for me would have to be Democratic Leadership in Education by Philip A. Woods, which I leant on heavily for my Masters dissertation.”

What it’s about:

Woods looks at how school leaders can develop a ‘democratic’ paradigm in schools that is practical, consultative and just gets things done for the benefit of children’s learning

What Mick is reading at the moment: 
Fiction: Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr
Non-fiction: Jerusalem The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore



Sally Flint, is a Senior Consultant specialising in school library development at Consilium Education.

If you would like to share your three School Readers, write to ITM on




FEATURE IMAGE: by Lubos Houska from Pixabay


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