Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday 6 May 2023

Ready Set Go – National Simultaneous Storytime is nearly here.

Are you ready to enjoy National Simultaneous Storytime at your local public or school library or other venue where kids gather? Find out what's happening in your area on Wednesday 24 May, dust off those running shoes and register to help celebrate this wonderful event. Get ready, get set, then go!

The National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is an Australia-wide group reading event run by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), where schools, libraries and other institutions bring  children together to read the same picture book at the same time –across the country! Registering for the event has great benefits, providing access to a range of electronic resources, including digital presentations of the book. The digital version PDF version of the book allows for sharing on electronic screens for easier viewing and still allows for the reader to add sound effects and voice animations as part of the reading. The ALIA NSS page includes links to Register (for free), Buy Merchandise and Buy the Book (though I suggest you check your local book store or library as your first option).

However, registering is not just about accessing resources, it is about being counted. Participation numbers provide data on just how many people were involved in the event and helps measure its success and relevance. ALIA and its supporters invest considerable time and effort to organise and promote this event and libraries and literacy organisations leverage this at the local level to make this an event to savour, celebrate and enjoy by targeting key stakeholders - teachers, parents and children. In a time when support for libraries is under the microscope getting counted…counts!  

For inspiration; in 2018 over 1,062,230 participants at over 8,255 locations across Australia took part in National Simultaneous Storytime. In 2020 there were over 1,297,000 participants at over 14,469 locations, including participants from New Zealand. In 2022 there were almost 2 million participants  simultaneously reading Family Tree by Josh Pyke in around 33,000 locations. Such figures are testimony to the way we value reading and reading aloud to children.

The Speedy Sloth (2022). Scholastic.

This year the book to read and share is The Speedy Sloth written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Heath McKenzie. This is a delightful and funny story with some positive messages as Spike learns a lot about determination and perseverance as she takes on the faster animals in the jungle. Most importantly, Spike learns to be proud of her own achievements.

Each year, the chosen text specifically targets younger children but the shared reading experience is such fun that older students can also enjoy being part of the event. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Run a “Crazy Running Shoes” competition – encourage teacher and other adults to participate.
  • A school assembly – involve teachers to act out the different characters – sloths and the race participants – and transform the ‘book’ into a ‘performance’. Alternatively, older students could perform the book. Invite parents to participate.
  • Have children make and decorate and sloth mask to wear to the book reading.
  • Sloth mask template from ALIA's NSS page
  • Plan a “Buddy” activity, with older children sharing the book with younger children, or completing an activity together as a follow up. 
  • Secondary drama or arts students visit a nearby primary school to lead a simultaneous story time activity.
  • Readers’ Theatre type activities are a great way to encourage read aloud skills in older children. 
  • Investigate sloths, jungles, jungle animals and the Urban Sloth Project.
  • There are loads of other great ideas to support this year’s NSS on the ALIA NSS page including free downloadable graphics – a great way to promote the event to your community and a number of other activities including a template for making a sloth mask.
  • Search for other resources such as those available via Scholastic, a partner in this event and Learn from Play (a NSS supporter).

Find out what is happening in your local area – ask at your school library or day care centre and Tasmanian readers can visit Libraries Tasmania to register for a visit at your local library.

Speedy Sloth trailer from Scholastic Australia

We all know that reading aloud is vitally important and having fun with books is a great way to hook children into reading. With this post as a starting point you can easily get ready, get set and then GO on the 24 May 2023.  Don’t be a sloth – register today!

Jennie Bales

CBCA Tasmania Social Media Coordinator, read and retired teacher librarian and adjunct lecturer.

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