As part of Library and Information Week each year, the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) hosts National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS). In 2020, over 1.25 million participants simultaneously read the same picture book in libraries, schools, pre-schools, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country. The success of this annual event has challenged the Australian LIS profession to come up with innovative ideas for future NSS events.
When thinking about the biggest thing that could happen for NSS, a suggestion was made to do it from space. There was already a science education program with stories read aloud by astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS), so the idea was really not too outlandish…
So when ALIA approached the Australian Space Agency and the Office of the Chief Scientist, they received a very positive response. And the planning for NSS 2021 began and work commenced on sending a book into space.
Today, the selected picture book, with a single copy especially created to meet the precise physical requirements for space travel, lifted off from NASA’s flight facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, USA, heading for the ISS.
The book is entitled Give me some space! written and illustrated by Australian author Philip Bunting. It tells the story of Una, who dreams of a life in Space. She thinks that life on Earth is just so so-so. But how will she get there? And will she complete her mission to discover life in Space?
The story actually had to be fact-checked to ensure that the ideas were scientifically accurate. As part of the project, there will also be a citizen science experiment where school children across Australia will record the temperature in their location. The data they collect will be combined with ISS data to map specific climate details of the vast continent.
NSS 2021 is scheduled for Wednesday 19 May 2021 at 11:00 AEST – which seems light-years away from now! However, do pop the event in your diary, so that you can all make the most of the opportunity to join millions of children around the world as they listen to an astronaut read their special story aloud to them.
ALIA National Simultaneous Storytime https://www.alia.org.au/nss
Scroll down the webpage to ‘Resources’ to find heaps of creative ideas to support the NSS activities
Story Time from Space https://storytimefromspace.com/
Philip Bunting: Give me some space! https://philipbunting.com/books/give-me-some-space/
NASA Antares rocket launch from Wallops Island, Virginia, USA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRhgcY-yaf4