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August 25, 2006

Kristy Campbell
(850) 488-5394
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Announces Florida Middle School Students Attempt to Break a World Record
Students to read book passage aloud

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Governor Jeb Bush today announced that 214,686 middle school students in Florida will attempt to break the Guinness World Record™ in reading for the "Most People Reading Aloud Simultaneously in Multiple Locations." The event, Breaking a World Record: Reading Aloud!, overseen by the Just Read, Florida! office, aims to encourage students to read. Governor Bush was joined by Jane Feber, a middle school language arts teacher at Mandarin Middle School in Jacksonville, who came up with the idea to break a record.

"Reading is the key to learning and the foundation for success in school and life," said Governor Bush. "This event also lets children know that is reading is fun."

According to Guinness World Records™, the record for the largest number of people reading the same piece of literature aloud, simultaneously, in multiple locations. The current record is 155,528 students from 737 schools throughout the United Kingdom who read William Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils" on March 19, 2004. On Thursday, September 28, between 11 - 11:30 a.m. EST, middle school students will attempt to break that record via a live public broadcast and Webcast from Disney-MGM Studios. During the program, Governor Bush will lead a statewide read aloud using an excerpt from the book "Peter and the Starcatchers" written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson who both joined Governor Bush to announce the event.

"Our students continue to rise to the challenges of academic achievement," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "This event gives our middle school students the opportunity to show the world their dedication to succeed in reading."

Florida's middle school students have made significant improvements in reading. This year, 223,000 more students are reading on grade level or above grade level compared to 2001, and improvements in middle school reading tripled that of any previous single year gain. Additionally, there has been a renewed focus on reading at the middle school level and great participation in the Department of Education's Shoot for the Stars: A Record-Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative.

"Ridley and I have had so much fun talking about 'Peter and the Starcatchers' with kids, and we're really excited that it was selected by Governor Bush and the Department of Education for this terrific program," said Barry. "As a Floridian with a daughter in the Miami-Dade school system, I'm especially proud to be part of this effort."

Pearson added, "When we set out to answer my daughter's question of how Peter Pan first met Captain Hook, Dave and I wanted to write a fun story that our kids could read. Now, as it turns out, we've reached thousands of kids, many of them new readers, which is a thrill unlike any other. We're honored that the Department of Education has selected 'Peter and the Starcatchers' for the statewide read."

"Peter and the Starcatchers," published by Disney Editions, is the prequel to the beloved classic "Peter Pan" written by J.M. Barrie. In the prequel, Barry and Pearson answer questions about Peter Pan and how he and the Lost Boys come to live in Neverland. The book spent 47 weeks on the New York Times® Best Seller List. Students will be given a photocopied passage from the book to read for the event.

"Reading is the most necessary skill in order to have a productive life," said Feber. "Parents who encourage reading are helping their child become successful."

Many schools in Florida have shown interest in participating. Currently, 214,686 students in 303 schools and 55 school districts throughout Florida submitted interest forms. An online registration has been created for schools to sign up and provide the required information for the record attempt and its certification.

To learn more about the Breaking a World Record: Read Aloud! visit