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Press Release

Friday, January 29, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Interactive Book Club Kicks Off with Author Julianna Baggott

~ Literacy League allows middle school students to interact with today’s best selling authors ~

TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Education launched an interactive reading initiative for middle school students today, giving them a platform to discuss books with their favorite authors. Through the newly established Literacy League book club, students in grades six through eight will have the chance to read selected books and submit questions in a variety of formats directly to participating authors through a podcast series housed on Florida’s iTunes U site. The award winning book, “The Anybodies” by Julianna Baggott under the pen name N.E. Bode, is the first selection for the statewide collaborative book club.

“Florida’s students are well versed in technology, so we’re thrilled to offer them an interactive literacy program that utilizes their expertise and directly connects them with today’s celebrated authors,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Literacy League encourages students to come together globally and engage in worthwhile discussions that will redefine and enhance the role reading plays in their lives.”

Each quarter the Department will connect prominent authors with students through a podcast question and answer session about the featured book. For the first session, students will have until March 1st to submit their questions in text or video format to , or mail questions to the Department of Education’s Communications Office at 325 W. Gaines Street, Suite 1524, Tallahassee FL, 32399-0400.

“Using technology in the classroom to connect young readers to writers will bring books to life,” said author Julianna Baggott. “A real author talking to a class reading that particular book allows students to make that seemingly improbable series of connections: This book was written by a real person who has a real voice who is telling me that I have a voice, that I can write too! It's a new way to grab the attention of students who haven't yet attached to books, reading, and writing."

The chosen book, “The Anybodies” is a fun-filled adventure that mixes elements of many of today's popular books. Readers follow a young, wildly imaginative girl named Fern who is trapped in a rather dull life with her tragically boring parents. The Anybodies trilogy was a People Magazine pick alongside David Sedaris and Bill Clinton, a Washington Post Book of the Week, a Girl's Life Top Ten, and a Booksense selection. There are thirty-one foreign editions of her novels to date.

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Julianna Baggott has published 16 books over the last 10 years with three novels slated for publication in the next three years. She also writes bestselling novels for younger readers under the pen name N.E. Bode as well as under Julianna Baggott.

The Literacy League podcast will be housed on Florida’s iTunes U site, which provides free multimedia content to schools, parents, students, administrators and teachers both in Florida and around the world. As part of iTunes U, an area of the iTunes Store offering free education content, Florida’s site provides access to audio, video and text files that are designed to enhance when and where individuals learn. To visit Florida on iTunes U, visit www.floridaitunesu.com.

The next book selection will be announced in April. For more information about the Department of Education’s Literacy League, visit www.fldoe.org/literacyleague.