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PRESS RELEASE

December 1, 2003

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Jim Horne Launches "Just Read, Families! For the Holidays" Web Site

JACKSONVILLE — Education Commissioner Jim Horne today kicked off a new reading program entitled "Just Read, Families! For the Holidays." The program provides information for parents so that they can take an active role in reading with their children during winter break. Joined by State Senator Stephen Wise, State Representative Jennifer Carroll, and State Representative Mark Mahon, the Commissioner read to Oak Hill Elementary School students and demonstrated the web site. He stressed the importance of reading while school was out and how easy it is for parents to get involved.

"Research shows that children who do not continue to read while on vacation risk losing any progress they made during the school year," Commissioner Horne said. "By encouraging their children to read, parents are playing a critical role in achieving our goal of having every child reading at or above grade level."

The "Just Read, Families! For the Holidays" website, www.justreadfamilies.org/fortheholidays, offers parents the tools they need to nurture a reading-friendly environment at home during the holidays. Resources include links to county and municipal public libraries, tips for parents on how to read well with children, and a list of recommended books with holiday themes including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Ramadan.

The Florida Department of State's Division of Library Services and the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, who helped design the web site, partnered with Just Read, Florida!, Governor Bush's reading initiative, in the "Just Read, Families! For the Holidays" program.

Just Read, Florida! makes reading a priority in Florida's public schools and among the community groups and volunteer organizations that support them. It is based on the latest reading research, which includes emphasis on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. For more information about Just Read, Florida! visit www.justreadflorida.com.