Welcome to Read for Meaning
Fostering a love of literature
and the English language since 2006


Since the spring of 2006, Read for Meaning has taught hundreds of Hong Kong children how to enjoy and get more out of books. Read for Meaning book clubs have been at German Swiss International School since January of 2007, having grown from one after-school group to six currently and making us the most popular offering in their extensive AA program. At our longstanding Saturday open program at Glenealy School in Midlevels, we serve pupils ages 5 to 17 from Hong Kong International, Harrow International, Chinese International, Singapore International, Canadian International, Australian International, Kellett, ISF Academy, International Christian School, Victoria Shanghai Academy, the various ESF schools as well as the elite local schools, including Christ Church Kindergarten, Braemar Hill Nursery, St. Paul's Co-ed, St. Paul's Convent, St. Joseph's Primary, St. Stephen's, DBS and DGS.

The vast majority of our book club pupils are "repeat customers," and the principal source of enrollment is word-of-mouth-from satisfied families as well as teachers who've seen the positive impact of our program on their pupils. We have welcomed next-door neighbours, cousins, big brothers, little sisters and the children of our parents' colleagues and clients. Thanks to the expansion and continuity of the Read for Meaning community, we have had the privilege of getting to know large, extended Hong Kong families, as well as temporary and long-term ex-pats making their home in the HKSAR.

Read for Meaning book clubs are designed to

  1. Develop comprehension, which encompasses 1) recall of detail; 2) summarizing/extracting the main point; 3) inference; 4) prediction; and 5) opinion
  2. Explore literary concepts, including narration, setting, conflict, resolution, characterization and theme
  3. Examine how authors write, identifying tools pupils can use in their own writing
  4. Achieve cultural, historical and geographical literacy
  5. Establish connections between books, as well as between books and personal experience and the wider world
  6. FIRST AND FOREMOST, encourage an appreciation of literature and help to form pupils' individual tastes in literature.

We use English-language books from around the world, including translations of good stories written in other languages, and a mix of fiction and non-fiction. We endeavour to introduce literature our pupils wouldn't come across at the bookstore or in their school library.

For our syllabus of more than 200 book titles, we have written a proprietary curriculum, the hallmark of which is pupil worksheets. Worksheets require pupils to find vocabulary and idioms in context, practice comprehension skills and, where appropriate, identify literary concepts and devices as well as delve into cultural or other topics. At the early primary level, pupils complete one title per lesson. Typically, we read a book aloud in class and send each pupil home with a copy of that title to read again, along with the accompanying worksheet to complete. At the next book club meeting, the completed worksheet forms the basis of the discussion.

As our pupils progress to Upper Primary and beyond, we expect them to take greater responsibility for their learning. There is relatively little reading aloud at this level, and "homework" (reading plus worksheet) can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The number of worksheets per book reflects its length and complexity; teenagers reading Orwell’s 1984 with us, for example, complete eight worksheets over as many weeks.

At all levels, review is an essential component of the program. At the beginning of every session, we conduct oral quizzes to test mastery of vocabulary and concepts. We augment oral practice with True/False and Vocabulary tests, awarding prizes to winners. We find that this element of healthy competition is helpful towards the goal of consolidating knowledge, and gives pupils of different talents a chance to shine. Book club is fun and social, but we have very concrete learning goals. Parents receive a review sheet of key vocab and concepts of at the end of every term.

Another important attribute of Read for Meaning book clubs is group size, which is a maximum of eight pupils. We believe that this is the optimal number for fruitful conversation: each pupil gets individual attention from the teacher, and each pupil has to contribute to the discussion. We create a non-threatening and happy environment for even the shyest of participants and encourage all of them to pursue any relevant "connections" they would like to mention.

At Read for Meaning book clubs, we don't teach pupils how to read, but, rather, how to slow down in order to become active readers, allowing them to get more out of books. Reading that is both productive and enjoyable bolsters academic success and becomes a lifelong passion.

Read for Meaning teachers are available for writing and editing projects. We’ve helped academics, policymakers, analysts, economists and business people communicate succinctly and effectively in English. Our projects have ranged in size from a two-page marketing brochure to a 270-page book on current challenges facing China's economy. Non-native speakers of English particularly appreciate our instructive approach to editing, in that they can apply our thorough explanations to improve subsequent work.


Mary Barker

Founder and Teacher

Our founder, Mrs. Mary Barker, raised her son and daughter in Hong Kong. After attending local international schools, both children moved to English boarding schools for their secondary education. Her son graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and works in Hong Kong and China in medical technology. Her daughter graduated with a joint degree in French and Spanish from Royal Holloway, University of London, and is heading to a career in translation. While Mrs. Barker's #1 goal for Read for Meaning is to foster a love of books, she has devised a program with very concrete learning goals-because she understands firsthand that the IB, GCSEs, A-Levels, SATs and the like demand a very high level of vocabulary, comprehension and literary analysis skills.

Mrs. Barker has a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Georgetown University in Washington, DC; an MBA from Cass Business School in London; and TESOL certification earned with ESF Educational. She has also worked with investment banks, consulates and academics, both as an editor and English instructor. She volunteered at the Catholic Cathedral in Hong Kong for eight years as head of the First Communion program, and served as President of the Georgetown University Alumni Association of Hong Kong from 2012 to 2016.

Sofia Suarez


Ms. Sofia Suarez attended Glenealy and Island Schools, and finished up high school at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. She has a degree in Italian from Georgetown and attended the British Institute in Florence. Ms. Suarez is a freelance writer specializing in lifestyle, culture and fashion, and many of you will know her from the two very witty columns she wrote for 17 years under pseudonyms for the Sunday Magazine of the South China Morning Post. She also writes the beauty column for Prestige Magazine. She has worked for Read for Meaning at both German Swiss International and Glenealy for eleven years. Ms. Suarez and husband Nick Kearns are proud parents of Marco, born in May 2016.

Raymond Chung


Mr. Raymond Chung was born in Hong Kong and raised in New York City. After attending Manhattan's prestigious Stuyvesant High School, he enrolled at Case Western Reserve University, where he completed a double major in Sociology and Anthropology. He earned a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaii, where he gained a certificate in Historic Preservation. Back in his ancestral home of Hong Kong since 2009, Mr. Chung has been able to pursue his interest in Chinese art and culture, and has contributed to and edited a number of books on Chinese and Tibetan antiques. His hobbies include writing poetry and translating Chinese poetry into English. He is a published poet, whose most recent accolade was inclusion in Outloud Too, the second anthology of Hong Kong’s longest running spoken word event. Mr. Chung earned his TESOL certification from English for Asia in 2012 and has been teaching at Read for Meaning since January 2013.

Caroline Kim


Mrs. Kim is the mother of three little boys, two of whom attend ESF schools in the New Territories. With a degree from Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, vast experience in the media world and certification in TESOL from Language Link, she works as an Educational Assistant at a local international school and has just been promoted to Cover Teacher status. As patient as she is organized, Caroline will fortunately return from time to time as a supply teacher.

Myrna Holm


Ms. Myrna Holm has both a BA (Honours) and a B. Ed from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, as well as an M.A. in Theological Studies from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. Her 30 years' teaching experience was gained mainly in Canada, but includes a year as an ESL teacher in Italy and ten years at international schools in China and Hong Kong. Canadian International School families will know Ms. Holm from her many years there as teacher-librarian. Over her teaching career, Ms. Holm's mission has been to build information literacy skills as well as a genuine love of reading that will set her pupils on a path to lifelong learning. A life-long learner herself, Ms. Holm recently earned her Translation Certification from the Chartered Institute of Linguists. She is a fluent speaker of French, and has taught French, English and English for Academic Purposes. Ms. Holm joined Read for Meaning in November 2014, teaching early primary and early secondary pupils in our Saturday program at Glenealy.

Karen Koh Marzo

Media instructor/Judge of the Annual Read for Meaning Presentation Prize

Karen Koh is a television and radio journalist, moderator/MC and trainer who has been working in Asia since 1989. She has worked for global news networks such as BBC World, CNBC Asia, CNN International, Reuters and the Wall St Journal as an anchor, reporter, producer and editor. She currently also hosts radio programs on Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) Radio 3. Her passion is telling stories, and helping others tell theirs in a memorable and engaging way.
See Link for Mrs. Marzo’s Detailed Professional Background


Pupil Acceptances

Here is the list of 2019 Acceptances thus far:

Canadian International School
Chinese International School
Diocesan Girls Junior School
ESF, various
Cheltenham Ladies College
Choate Rosemary Hall
Clifton College
Downe House
Eton College
Fay School, Massachusetts
Harrow, UK
St. Edward’s, Oxford (including an academic merit scholarship)
St. Mary’s Woldingham
Shawnigan Lake School, Vancouver Island
Wycombe Abbey, UK

Columbia University
Haverford College
Oxford University
Princeton University
Reed College
Santa Clara University
University of Chicago
Wesleyan University (including a finalist for the prestigious Freeman Scholarship)

The 39th Annual Foundation for Critical Thinking Conference held at University of Leuven, Belgium

In the first week of June, Mrs. Barker attended her third consecutive Foundation for Critical Thinking Conference, which was held in conjunction with the Summit for Critical Thinking across the European Higher Education Curricula. The conference presented the findings of a 3-year study conducted across 9 European countries, and entertained a number of conflicting, but encouraging, points of view on the introduction of Critical Thinking (CT) across the curriculum. Over the course of November and December, Mrs. Barker will be conducting mini-workshops on the Paul-Elder CT framework for parents who would like to know they can use this powerful tool in raising and educating their children. Look out for announcements on this website.

My Story Creation Awards 2019

Mrs. Barker was honoured to serve for the second year running as a judge for My Story Creation, an initiative of Kids4Kids, a Hong Kong charity dedicated to building literacy amongst the disadvantaged pupils of the city. There were hundreds of fantastically written and illustrated stories created by pupils from across the HKSAR—making deciding very difficult. On Saturday, April 27, 2019 during a daylong ceremony at the Asia Society the prizes for individual and school winners from various categories were awarded. Mrs. B would encourage her own pupils to submit their entries for the coming academic year, either as individuals or in teams. The registration deadline for the upcoming My Story Creation is September 15, 2019. Please see the Kids4Kids website for details.

Schedules and Enrollment Instructions

Note that programs at German Swiss are for their pupils only and that enrollment for Read for Meaning is handled by the school itself. For more information, please contact Simone Braun, Activities Program Manager, at afternoonactivities@gsis.edu.hk. Online registration for Term 1 Academic 2019/20 begins at 10am on Thursday, August 22, 2019. Be ready to go online early to avoid disappointment.

Read for Meaning Term 1 2019/20 Schedule at Peak Campus; all sessions in the 2-3:15pm time slot:
Mondays, for Early Readers: Sept 16, 23, 30; Oct 14; Nov 4, 11, 18, 25; Dec 2, 9, 16
Tuesdays, for Strong Readers: Sept 17, 24; Oct 8, 15, 29; Nov 12, 19, 26; Dec 3, 10, 17
Wednesdays, for Intermediate Readers: Sept 18, 25; Oct 2, 9, 16, 30; Nov 6, 13, 20, 27; Dec 4, 11, 18

  1. Early Readers is for budding readers who don’t need to be reading independently yet. This group would be appropriate for K01, K02, Y02 and Y03 pupils. The group will read beginner “chapter” books and be assigned simple worksheets.
  2. Strong Readers is for pupils who are comfortable reading novels. This group would be appropriate for K03, K04, Y05 and Y06 pupils. In some cases, particularly strong Y04 readers would enjoy and benefit from this group.
  3. Intermediate Readers is for pupils currently reading advanced chapter books, and are not quite ready for full-fledged novels. During the year, pupils in the group will be making the transition to novels and are expected to be reading novels in Term 3 of this academic year. Pupils eligible for this group would be in K03, K04, Y04 and Y05.
  4. If you have any questions whatsoever about which class your child should be enrolled in, or feel your child should be put into a higher group than indicated by grade level, please contact Mrs. Barker at mary@readformeaning.com to discuss in advance of the registration date of August 22nd.

Schedule for Read for Meaning Term 1 2019/20 at Pokfulam Campus to be announced.

Term 1 2019/20 Schedule: Oct 19, 26; Nov 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; Dec 7, 14 (9 sessions)

Fees and Policies

  1. Fees of HK$4050 cover Term 1 of academic year 2019/20 (9 sessions) in the Saturday Open Program at Glenealy, and include all books and materials. For the places of existing pupils to be secured, form and cheque must be received by Sept 3, 2019. Please link here to the registration form.
  2. Pupils are entitled to one pre-scheduled and discounted absence per term. If there is a session you know your child won’t be able to attend, please let us know in advance. We will arrange a credit for the following term or a difference cheque at the end of term.
  3. Make-up classes will be held between 12:05 and 1:20pm every Saturday during the term. Each make-up class will be 25 minutes long, and each pupil will be entitled to two make-ups over the course of the term. It will be the parents’ responsibility to arrange for make-up sessions and to deliver their children on time (12:05; 12:30; or 12:55pm).
  4. Enrollment is maximum seven pupils per book club.
  5. Read for Meaning Limited can assume no responsibility for loss or accident outside of the classrooms.
  6. In the case of cancellation due to weather or other venue-related event beyond our control, we will attempt to arrange a day of make-up lessons on a best-efforts basis.

Read for Meaning is happy to provide book clubs that fit in with your children's schedule and in a venue of your choosing. We also coordinate the Read for Meaning Refugee Project, which combines literature, education on refugee issues and community service for upper primary and secondary pupils. Please contact us to find out more.


Bryant's growing interest in English and the achievement of winning top prize for Vocabulary and Idiomatic Language is a testament to Read for Meaning's curriculum as well as its nurturing framework.

Frank Chimero, Parent

Book club has been such a positive experience for Stella. She really enjoys the Read for Meaning sessions, which have changed her attitude to reading — and made a huge impact on her comprehension skills.

Massimo Vignelli, Parents

Jenny's English has improved a lot because of book club. Her younger brother reads all the Read for Meaning books too. Would you have a space for him next term?

Daniel Mall, Parents

Thank you for getting Annabelle to explore different genres over the years… She is heading to boarding school with a sophisticated and wide taste in books.

Daniel Mall, Parents


To find out more about Read For Meaning, please get in touch with us at:

+852 9401 4559

Read for Meaning Limited

Registered Address: East Asia Sentinel; 22/F Tai Yau Bldg; 181 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong