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Press Release

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Kristin Lock
(850) 245-2112 or (850) 778-7294

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Summertime Reading Takes to the Outdoors

~ Reading list, new online search tool and Florida’s state parks gives kids the opportunity to learn about Florida’s environment ~

TALLAHASSEE – Summer has arrived and the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are encouraging students to head outdoors with a book from DOE’s 2010 recommended summer reading list. The annual reading list, part of DOE’s Just Read, Florida! mission, is designed to promote nature-based literature while fostering in students an appreciation for the both reading and the outdoors.

“Reading outdoors is a great way to foster environmental stewardship in Florida’s students,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “By promoting literature focused on Florida’s diverse natural resources, we hope to harness students’ interest in academic success as well as environmental protection.”

One of the suggested summer reads for 2010 is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Pulitzer prize-winning novel, The Yearling. This story takes readers back in time to Rawlings 1930s farm life. A visit to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park offers a glimpse into the setting that inspired the book. Florida’s 160 state parks, which cover more than 700,000 acres of Florida’s natural environment, also make a perfect backdrop for reading.

Other examples of Florida State Parks and nature-based selections on the 2010 summer reading list include:

  • Grades K-3: Pancakes for Breakfast, Tommie DePaola. Visit De Leon Springs State Park in De Leon Springs where you can make your own pancakes at the table.
  • Grades 4-5: The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich. Visit Collier-Seminole State Park in Naples on the edge of the Everglades rich with Native American history.
  • Grades 6-8: Forever Forest, Kristin Joy-Pratt Serafini. Visit Homossassa Springs Wildlife State Park to learn about protection and conservation of Florida wildlife.
  • Grades 9-12: Southern Comforts: Rooted in a Florida Place, Sudye Cauthen. Visit Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida´s first state preserve and a National Natural Landmark.

“Promoting summer reading to students has always been a primary mission of ours, but now the opportunities are right at their fingertips,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Our recently launched book search offers ease and accessibility in finding that perfect read for a beautiful summer day.”

Research shows that children who continue to read during the summer months are more likely to retain progress made throughout the school year. In addition to the Just Read, Florida! summer reading list, DOE also recently partnered with the Department of State (DOS) and MetaMetrics, Inc. to launch ‘Find a Book,’ a search tool that identifies the appropriate books for each student’s reading level. This technology allows students and their families to personalize their book list according to preference and reading level.

To view all of DOE’s summer reading suggestions, visit www.justreadfamilies.org/SummerReadingList.pdf (PDF). To learn more about ’Find a Book,’ visit www.lexile.com/findabook. For more about Florida State Parks, go to www.FloridaStateParks.org or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FLStateParks.