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Press Release

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Hispanic Heritage Month Kicks off with Recommended Reading List

~ Select book titles recommended to encourage appreciation of Hispanic culture ~

TALLAHASSEE - In celebration of this year's Hispanic Heritage Month, the Florida Department of Education's Just Read, Florida! Office announces the 2011 Hispanic Heritage Month Recommended Reading List. The list is designed to encourage more Florida students to read and learn about the rich cultural diversity and countless contributions of the world's many Hispanic cultures.

"From Pensacola to Key West, Florida is home to strong Hispanic roots that have helped to shape our state in many positive and unique ways," said Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. "I encourage all our students to take advantage of the materials on this year's recommended reading list so they can gain a more profound understanding of the importance of this deep cultural connection."

This year's selections include award winning authors and book titles, including recommended reading lists approved by numerous Hispanic Heritage Month celebratory committees. Some of the new titles include, Nacho and Lolita, by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Day It Snowed Tortillas: A Classic from the American Southwest, by Joe Hayes, How Tia Lola Came to Stay, by Julia Alvarez and The Firefly Letters, by Margarita Engle.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide and begins Sept. 15, 2011, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also achieved independence on the 16th and 18th of September, respectively. Hispanic Heritage Month has been recognized in the United States since 1974, when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long observation.

A free online search tool called "Find a Book, Florida" is available on the Department of Education's website that can help families locate the reading selections on this year's recommended list. The tool allows users to build custom reading lists based on their individual interests from a growing database of fiction and nonfiction titles. The database also allows users to locate books that best complement their reading ability. Using Lexile® measures, the standard for matching readers with books, "Find a Book, Florida" aims to make it easier for students and families to select the right books and then locate these selections at their local public library. To use this resource today, visit or

The Just Read, Florida! Office's recommended reading lists provide a variety of suggested books by grade level and also include suggested books for adults. To view this year's recommended reading list for Hispanic Heritage Month, please visit