Race into Reading with National Simultaneous Storytime 2023

Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) next Wednesday 24 May?

This year’s NSS book is The Speedy Sloth, written by Rebecca Young, illustrated by Heath McKenzie and published by Scholastic.

Follow this link to the Australian Library and Information Association where you can register for the event and download some wonderful (and free) teaching resources.

About The Speedy Sloth

The Speedy Sloth by Rebecca Young and Heath McKenzie

The blurb

It was finally time for the event of the year,
Spike couldn’t believe it—
THE GREAT RACE was here!
The other sloths said it couldn’t be done,
but Spike didn’t care, she was ready to run!

About the author

Rebecca Young is an award-winning author from Sydney. Her first book, Button Boy, illustrated by Sue deGennaro, was a Notable Book for the 2012 CBCA Awards and has been published internationally. In 2016, Teacup, illustrated by Matt Ottley, won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature in the NSW Premier’s Literacy Awards.

About the illustrator

Heath McKenzie is an award-winning children’s book illustrator who has written and illustrated countless books for children. Heath lives in Melbourne with his wife, two kids, dog, and a fish that he considers more of a lodger than a family member.

About National Simultaneous Storytime

National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, family day cares, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country. Now in its 23rd successful year, it is a colourful, vibrant, fun event that aims to promote the value of reading and literacy, using an Australian children’s book that explores age-appropriate themes, and addresses key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.

This year’s events will be live streamed from The Sydney Zoo! Rebecca Young will read her book The Speedy Sloth accompanied by illustrator Heath McKenzie who will teach us how to draw Spike. There may even be a special appearance from some of the residents at The Sydney Zoo! What a fun event!

What I like about The Speedy Sloth

The Speedy Sloth is a delightful story about Spike who, unlike other sloths, is excited to enter the event of the year – The Great Race. Spike does her best. She believes in herself and in the value of persistence and training hard. She perseveres and is determined to finish the race. And she does, surprising all the other sloths. But spike doesn’t win the race. In fact, she comes last. But that doesn’t matter to Spike because in her eyes she is a winner. She had trained hard and raced her best race, raced even faster than any sloth had before. She not only made it across the finish line, she got back home in time for dinner. Now that’s a champion attitude.

I think there are many wonderful things to discuss about this story including, diversity and diverse abilities, appreciating oneself, never giving up, having a positive attitude, pushing the limits and being proud of your achievements and personal best results, not comparing oneself to others.

The title itself is engaging and humorous with its inherent contradictions. It could be fun to discuss the contradiction with children and have them suggest titles for other characters or books using contradictions e.g. the smallest elephant, the gentle lion.

NSS23-General-Promoslide The Speedy Sloth

Don’t forget: Follow this link to the Australian Library and Information Association where you can register for the event and download some wonderful (and free) teaching resources.

a non-fiction text about sloths

I have also made a free online information resource Let’s find out about Sloths which you can access via the link – great for science and literacy. Enjoy!


  1. Robbie Cheadle
    May 18, 2023

    This sounds like a lovely book, Norah. I really like the idea of a determined sloth.

  2. DGKaye
    May 19, 2023

    This looks like a fun read for the kiddies Norah. And I will say, your thoughts about the book were much more revealing than the blurb. <3

    • Norah Colvin
      May 21, 2023

      Thank you for your comment, Debby. It is a lovely book. Perhaps I gave away too much of the story, but I hope that will only encourage more readers to choose it. After all the children won’t read my comments. 🙂

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