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Florida's New Worlds Reading Initiative Makes Waves at Celebratory Book Bash

Langley Leverett  //  Nov 16, 2023

Florida's New Worlds Reading Initiative Makes Waves at Celebratory Book Bash

The New Worlds Reading Initiative invited Miami families of voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) – 5th grade public and charter school students to attend and participate in the “Splash Into New Worlds” Book Bash hosted at the Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science. 

Students that attended received free books from Scholastic, participated in fun reading activities, and had access to the museum’s aquarium. Malcolm Mitchell, Super Bowl champion and author of My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World, shared a special read-aloud and signed copies of his book for students. Community members, regional partners, and local leaders, attended and gave remarks. Students were also surprised by a special appearance from Clifford the Big Red Dog!

The event celebrated three years of advancing childhood literacy with the New Worlds Reading Initiative, administered by University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning, and more than 4 million books shipped to the homes of Florida children in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and braille. Created to help more than 861,000 eligible VPK – 5th grade students in Florida not yet meeting age-appropriate standards, or not yet reading on grade level, New Worlds Reading delivers nine FREE books and reading activities each school year directly to the doorsteps of eligible VPK through 5th grade students. 

“In just two short years, New Worlds Reading has now shipped more than four million books to student’s homes in every school district across the state! That’s four million opportunities to ignite a student’s interest, and if you ask me, four million reasons to celebrate,” said Dr. Phil Poekert, Director, UF Lastinger Center for Learning


Students listen to author and football star Malcom Mitchell as he gives a read-aloud.

“Since 2021, children and families have been at the center of our focus. We’ve enrolled more than 269,000 students across Florida school districts —and counting!” said Dr. Shaunté Duggins, Associate Director of New Worlds Reading. “We're honored to partner with Florida families to help ignite their children’s reading journey, building foundational literacy skills today that will help set them up for reading success tomorrow.”

With over 220 students and family members attending, the event made waves in creating reading joy! 

Families with a VPK student who is not yet meeting age-appropriate standards according to FAST Star Early Literacy or a K-5th grader not yet reading on grade level in a public or charter school, are eligible to apply today

To keep up with more exciting educational news like this, be sure to check out @ScholasticEdu on X!