National Simultaneous Storytime

Bowerbird Blues follows the travels of a bowerbird on its search to complete its collection of blue items: a bottle cap, a bread tie, straw, some ribbon. It feels something is still missing. But what could it be? On Wednesday 22 May at 12:00 pm, all students in years Foundation to Grade 6 sat and listened as they heard about the bowerbird’s adventures.

Simultaneous Storytime is a nationally organized event when students all over the country (and in fact in neighbouring countries as well) engage in the same book at the same time in schools, libraries, childcare centres, bookstores, in the family home and many other locations. This helps to celebrate and promote literacy, the value of reading and Australian authors and illustrators. Picture story books can be entertaining for children and adults of all ages. However, the educational value of a story can be so much deeper than just the basic plot.

Foundation students were read to by Ms Sandra Torcassio. Students are learning the structure of a story, how it can flow from beginning, through development, and finally come to the resolution of a problem. Students were able to see how the story played out, identifying what issue the bowerbird might be facing and how it was solved at the end.

Grade 1 students had Dr Robert Jacob as their reader. They were able to look deeper into the problem that the bird faced, identifying what was collected along the way and seeing the similarities and differences for the many pieces the bird was adding to its collection.

Grade 2 students had a cozy reading experience within their classroom with their teacher, where they were able to engage in the story and complete activities afterwards.

Grade 3s and 4s looked at being able to summarise the story in their own words. This practiced skills of using their own words, recollection of details and a true understanding of the plot. They were also able to engage in some cross-curricular work, and after a reading with Ms Melissa Roberton, some classes were able to go back to their classroom to complete more activities linked to maths and science.

Grades 5 and 6 were taken through the book and activity by Ms Vanessa Hodgkiss. She took a philosophical approach and started to break down a simple term ‘collection’. What does it mean to have a collection? What items make up a collection? Students were provided with images of groups of items and asked to determine whether it was a collection or not. Why could a group of different fruits be a collection but maybe not a single apple? Do multiple apples then make a collection? What about a carpark full of cars? A bunch of stamps? Old envelopes that still have the stamps on them?

Students engaged in discussions about their definition of the term ‘collection’ and then provided arguments for and against images. Not only were they thinking deeply about a term, but they were also developing their active listening skills, construction of an argument, teamwork, taking turns and many other inter disciplinary skills.

I would like to thank our wonderful readers on the day, Dr Robert Jacob, Ms Melissa Roberton, Ms Sandra Torcasio and Ms Vanessa Hodgkiss. Students thoroughly enjoy a different voice reading to them to make this such a special event.

I would also like to thank the library staff, Rebecca Birch and Vicki Mueller, who help make something as simple as reading a book into a school wide event that is another highlight of the year. They do so much behind the scenes to make this happen and I could not do it without them. Reading is so important and has many benefits for the students and teachers. Any time we find more opportunities for students to engage and enjoy reading is time and effort well spent.

A picture book can be so much more than a simple story. Whilst there was a great plot and beautiful images, all year levels were able to engage in the story in a way that challenged their thinking and built on skills that they have been working on in the classroom, all while sharing the same book at the same time with millions of other participants around Australia.

Happy reading!

Diana Thompson

Head of Joan Reid Resource Centre