24 May 2011

National Simultaneous Story Time Wednesday 25 May 11.00 am

Tomorrow 170,000 Australian children read the same book at the same time.

It’s fun, it’s feathery and at 11am tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25, it will have at least 170,548 children spellbound. It’s Feathers for Phoebe by Rod Clement, this year’s book selection for National Simultaneous Storytime.

A feature event in the Australian Library and Information Week (ALIA) calendar, National Simultaneous Storytime is Australia’s biggest single storytelling event. It is celebrated in schools, public libraries, kindergartens, childcare centres and bookshops. This year, 1,102 simultaneous readings will take part across the nation, including, for the first time, children with vision and hearing impairments, and children in detention centres.

“2011 is the eleventh year of National Simultaneous Storytime,” Australian Library and Information Association Executive Director, Sue Hutley said.

“Over those years, the idea of sharing in the reading of one book, altogether and at the very same time, has captured the imaginations and hearts of children and adults alike,” Ms Hutley said.

“Each year, it grows, and it is very special for everyone who works with children in libraries, in the education sector and children’s services to mark the 11th anniversary of National Simultaneous Storytime by expanding the program to involve children who could not be involved before.

This year, the program has expanded once again and includes a number of locations who will be translating the book into community languages. The book has also been made available as a Podcast for children with vision impairments and a Podcast with AUSLAN translation for deaf children.

Published by HarperCollins, Feathers for Phoebe was selected as this year’s book because of its themes of self-acceptance and learning that appearances aren’t everything - a very important lesson for children in today’s body-image conscious society.

“Everyone can relate to wanting to be happy about who we are and what we look like” said Ms Hutley. “For libraries, there’s a special connection because we strive to serve and connect the whole community.”

Author Rod Clement, whose day job is cartoonist for The Australian Financial Review, loves to use humour and the animal world in his picture books, which also include the bestselling Edward the Emu and Edwina the Emu.

“Wow, to be chosen for National Simultaneous Storytime is such an incredible honour!” said Rod Clement. “The fact that all over Australia kids will be reading Feathers for Phoebe at the same time makes my head spin. It's time to put away my headdress and throw away my tail feathers as THAT is how to get noticed!”

Author Tania McCartney will present a special National Simultaneous Story Time at Civic Library tomorrow morning. Story Time begins at 10.30 am.