Curling up with a good book

First Lady Ann Scott shares a special holiday message and reads passage from Polar Express

What are your plans for the holiday break? Visiting with family, eating good food, playing games, and celebrating the holidays are on my list, but I also plan to curl up with a good book.

Days off from school and work are great times to read books by yourself and with your family. We have a great list of books for children on our Holiday Reading List. Do you see any of your favorites on there? What other holiday books do you enjoy reading?

Happy holidays!

Summer Literacy

Guest post by Stuart Greenberg, Just Read, Florida! executive director 

School may be out, but literacy is always in. Here at the Florida Department of Education, we continue to focus our energy on reading and literacy. Studies show that when students continue reading during the summer, they are able to maintain their academic focus when school starts back up in the fall.

To help us with our campaign of encouraging reading and literacy in all that we do, we rely on great literacy leaders throughout our state. Take for instance Lora McCalister-Cruel, a literacy coach at A. Crawford Mosley High School in Bay County, who was named as one of five finalist to compete for the 2012 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Award. Her exceptional work inBayCounty has undoubtedly helped her students achieve at higher levels than ever before – and she makes it fun.

Another exceptional leader who has imparted her passion for all things literature is the state’s First Lady – Mrs. Ann Scott. With her support, the Department, along with many other literacy support organizations have been able to tout the wonderful work being done in Florida to ensure our students are reading and learning.

Just a few weeks ago Mrs. Scott kicked off her Summer Literacy Adventure, a program that encourages students to pledge to read and visit their local public libraries. Students interested in participating in the Summer Literacy Adventure can visit the Just Read, Florida! website to take the pledge. The higher the percentage of students taking the pledge at a school the higher their chances are of receiving a special visit from Mrs. Scott and earning a one-day pass for students and faculty to any Florida State Park.

There are tons of resources available to help you find a great book or to encourage more reading in everyday life. Check out some of the tools below: 

  • Find-A-Book, Florida: This is a free online tool that allows students to search for books based on their reading ability and interests. The tool, offered courtesy of MetaMetrics, uses Lexile® measures, a widely adopted reading metric that can guide a reader to an appropriate level book. 
  • Recommended Summer Reading List: The DOE’s Just Read, Florida! Office offers a Recommended Summer Reading List and other valuable reading and literacy resources for students and families.
  •  Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida: This is still a ways off, but every year the Department celebrates literacy in January. Next year’s dates are Jan. 23-27, 2012. More info will be available soon on the website.
  • Literacy League: This podcast project is designed to make reading interactive and fun for Florida’s middle school students. The club is open to all students in grades 6-8 as a way to support and encourage a love of reading by giving students an opportunity to connect with their favorite authors. Students submit questions, which are answered via podcast by the author. Visit the website for past podcast recordings and upcoming book selections. 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information on any of these initiatives. I encourage you to read this summer and enjoy the hot days ahead with a great book!



Read and Donate Books

Sometimes a good book may be hard to find, but ANY book can help promote reading and literacy. This month, the Department of Education has teamed up with MetaMetrics and Simon Malls to encourage you to read and donate a book to a local school. Several Simon Mall locations in Florida will host Kidgits Club’s “Book Blast” events where you can visit, learn and donate. Your participation will help a local school obtain much-needed books to fill their media centers and libraries, and you will get a great opportunity to learn about a tool called “Find a Book, Florida!”

This online resource enables students to search for books and build custom reading lists based on their interests and reading level. By going to or the Department’s home page, you can use the tool to find the most appropriate books for your student. We all know that reading is important in school, but these are just a few of the many opportunities you have to infuse reading and literacy in your everyday lives.

Reading and literacy

In January, the Department celebrated the importance of reading and literacy with Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! We had more than 15 million minutes captured statewide during the Million Minute Marathon – and countless other literacy activities in communities and districts. This coming weekend, I have the opportunity to further stress the importance of reading through the Volunteer USA Foundation’s Celebration of Reading event. All around us, we have opportunities to infuse reading and literacy in our every day lives. Reading is a core component in education, and I hope you continue to find ways to make reading fun and exciting for your children.

Teacher, student, parent passion for reading is inspiring

Every year when we honor Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! it reminds me how passionate our students, teachers, staff and officials are about giving every child the gift of literacy. Next week, hundreds of volunteers throughout the state will be visiting Florida schools to share their personal love of reading.  They’ll bring the message that reading anything, including magazines, e-readers and websites, increases the reader’s vocabulary and knowledge.  They’ll encourage parents throughout their communities to get involved in the fun and simple task of sharing reading with their children.  And most importantly, they’ll be in classrooms interacting with students and talking about how today’s students can contribute to our state’s great future, and it all starts with reading.

We have a ton of events planned next week – from gift card giveaways and PSA contest winners to the Million Minute Read and book signings by Florida authors, including Edward Bloor, author of Taken.   That’s not to mention the hundreds of school and district-specific events organized by our fine teachers and educational leaders throughout the state.   To learn more about how you can participate in next week’s events or to learn more about the many partners contributing to Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! this year, check out our list of events. And this weekend, give some thought to how you can help encourage students, parents, teachers and other Floridians to grow their love of literacy next week and all year round!