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September 22, 2006

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

Less Than One Week Until Florida Middle School Students Attempt to Break a World Record

TALLAHASSEE—Governor Jeb Bush today reminded principals and teachers across Florida that time is quickly running out to sign their schools and students up for Breaking a World Record: Reading Aloud! Overseen by the Just Read, Florida! office, the event will bring together more than 200,000 middle school students in Florida in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record™ for the "Most People Reading Aloud Simultaneously in Multiple Locations."

"Not only is reading is the key to learning and the foundation for success in school and life, but it is fun," said Governor Bush. "With less than one week to go, I am encouraged by the overwhelming number of students, principals, teachers and parents committed to making Florida the new Guinness World Record™ holder."

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 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 will join Governor Bush at the event.

Just Read, Florida! has received an overwhelming response from schools interested in participating in this event. Currently, more than 250,000 students in 470 schools and more than 60 school districts throughout Florida submitted interest forms, including students in Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Homes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Volusia, Walton and Washington Counties.

"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 students have made significant improvements in reading. This year, 223,000 more students are reading at and 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.

An online registration has been created for schools to sign up and provide the required information for the record attempt and its certification. To participate in this event, it is not necessary to buy the book. The excerpt students will be reading can be downloaded from the Just Read, Florida! website. To learn more about the Breaking a World Record: Reading Aloud!, please visit