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PRESS RELEASE

April 18, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Launches Just Read, Florida! "For Teens, by Teens" Recommended Reading List

TALLAHASSEE — Commissioner John L. Winn today launched the Just Read, Florida! "For Teens, by Teens" recommended reading list database as part of the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades will submit their favorite books online and view recommendations from other students. This database will also be used as part of K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke's Summer Book Reading Challenge, the second contest in the year-long middle school initiative.

"What better way to motivate middle school students to read than to find out from them what they like to read?" said Commissioner Winn. Research tells us that kids need to read widely to continue developing as reader. This website is a tool that teens can use to share their own personal favorite books and get other teens excited about reading."

Students can list their favorite books online, submit a rating and a mini-review at the Just Read, Florida! website at www.justreadflorida.com. There are plans to expand the database for all grade levels in the near future. Each submission will be reviewed for appropriateness of content before being posted for other teens to consider.

"I applaud Governor Bush and Commissioner Winn for their continued promotion of reading statewide through the Just Read Florida! initiative," said Secretary of State Sue M. Cobb. "It's wonderful that today's technology can connect Florida teens and generate excitement about reading. The "For Teens, By Teens" database empowers students to influence the books chosen and read by their peers."

Other challenges included in the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year in Middle Schools initiative:

  • The Commissioner's FCAT Reading Scores Challenge. Each middle school that is able to beat both the percentage of students meeting high standards in reading and the percentage making learning gains will receive certificates from Governor Bush and Commissioner Winn, Just Read, Florida! posters and flags commemorating their achievement. Then the school that has the highest level of improvement will win $10,000, courtesy of Bealls Department Stores, Inc., for their school media center. Winners will be announced in May.
  • Chancellor Yecke's Summer Reading Book Challenge. Florida sixth, seventh and eighth grades students will be challenged to out "read" one another. Starting with a minimum of 15 middle school level books, the student who reads the most books and completes a short online survey will win prizes. The student's school will also receive prizes. The winner will be announced in September.
  • The Governor and First Lady's Reading in the Arts Contest. Patterned after "Florida's Journey into Narnia" contest, in which more than 3000 essays, 2400 illustrations and 50 short videos were submitted for competition, middle school students will be able to compete once again. Prizes will be awarded to individual student, teacher and school winners. The selection upon which the competition will be based will be announced in September and winners will be announced in December.

For more information on the middle school initiative and Just Read, Florida!, please visit www.justreadflorida.com