Author James Patterson Launches Transformational Literacy Classrooms

Bestselling author and literacy champion, James Patterson, is writing the next chapter in his partnership with the University of Florida by expanding access to the James Patterson Literacy Challenge to schools across the state and beyond.

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March 27, 2024

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Bestselling author and literacy champion James Patterson is writing the next chapter in his partnership with the University of Florida by expanding access to the James Patterson Literacy Challenge to schools across the state and beyond.
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With his recent $2 million investment earlier this year, the program will enter a new phase, launching hundreds of James Patterson Literacy Classrooms across Florida and the nation beginning in fall 2024. These classrooms will provide teachers with the University of Florida Literacy Institute’s Foundations curriculum and accompanying professional learning and coaching support from both the institute and the Lastinger Center for Learning to implement effective literacy education that will track effectiveness outcomes.

With more than $8 million in support from Sue and James Patterson over the past six years, this program is making life-changing impacts on children’s reading abilities. The Pattersons have given over $100 million to education and literacy programs, marking a substantial investment in the future of literacy education.

The award-winning storyteller partnered with the University of Florida College of Education in 2018 to reverse historically low literacy rates among Florida’s students. UF’s innovative program uses proven research and strategies to systematically build children’s reading skills — and it’s working.

In some of Florida’s lowest performing schools, the number of students reading on grade level increased by 88%. These students are even outperforming their peers at traditionally higher-performing schools. Florida now ranks third in the nation for fourth-grade reading, up from sixth in 2017. The state also ranks first in the country for reading on grade level for Hispanic students and students on free or reduced lunch and third for Black student achievement.

“As Florida’s flagship and land-grant university, UF has an important mission to serve our state,” said University of Florida President Ben Sasse. “We’re moving the needle on literacy rates because we want to do our part to give kids the opportunities they need to succeed. With the help of philanthropic visionaries like James Patterson, we can strengthen the culture of literacy across Florida and the nation.”

Patterson, who is well known for his work to advance literacy and foster a love of reading among children and adults, said his philanthropy to UF is driven by his desire to improve the quality of life for future generations and his desire to ensure the U.S. fulfills its promise of a great education for every child.
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“There is a crisis in American literacy education, where half of students miss critical milestones,” said Patterson, whose books include the popular Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series. “But we’ve found the formula that works, so now we’re working to get our program into the hands of as many teachers as possible.”

James Patterson

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In addition to donating more than 1 million books to students, $7.25 million to school and classroom libraries and $2.1 million to independent bookstores and employees, Patterson has established more than 400 Teacher and Writer Education Scholarships at 21 colleges and universities, including support for future teachers attending UF. Patterson’s work to advance literacy education has also included lobbying for more funding to support literacy education in Florida, with a visit to Tallahassee in 2018 to announce his first of three philanthropic investments in the James Patterson Literacy Challenge.

“One hundred percent of my students grew…using this program,” said Nicole Yakubovsky, a kindergarten teacher at High Point Elementary School in Pinellas County whose classroom participated in earlier UF pilot studies funded by James Patterson’s philanthropy. “They soared. It’s amazing.”

The UF College of Education has garnered $96 million in legislative support for literacy efforts since the James Patterson Literacy Challenge launched six years ago. This funding is in addition to the State Legislature’s landmark $200 million investment in children’s literacy with the New Worlds Reading Initiative, which is administered by the UF Lastinger Center and has delivered more than 4.5 million free books to children throughout Florida who do not yet read on grade level.

“James Patterson has been the literacy champion for our college, our university and our state,” said Glenn Good, dean of the UF College of Education. “His partnership has made this possible, and I look forward to even more promising outcomes for the many teachers and students we serve here in Florida and across the nation.”

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“One hundred percent of my students grew…using this program,” said Nicole Yakubovsky, a kindergarten teacher at High Point Elementary School in Pinellas County whose classroom participated in earlier UF pilot studies funded by James Patterson’s philanthropy. “They soared. It’s amazing.”

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About the James Patterson Literacy Challenge (JPLC): The James Patterson Literacy Challenge is a partnership between the James Patterson Foundation and the University of Florida College of Education to address Florida’s youth literacy crisis. Our gold-standard curriculum and professional learning experiences for educators build children’s reading skills and confidence, boosting literacy achievement. https://education.ufl.edu/patterson/

About the UF Literacy Institute (UFLI): UFLI is an ongoing effort by UF faculty, students and staff to improve literacy outcomes for children learning to read. The work of UFLI focuses on two main areas: teacher development and reader development. Our programs and resources are designed to help teachers become more confident and more successful in their capacity to help kids learn to read. https://ufli.education.ufl.edu/

About the UF Lastinger Center for Learning: The University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning improves the quality of teaching, learning and childcare. We research, develop and scale equitable educational innovations for adults and children that put all learners on trajectories for lifelong success. https://lastinger.center.ufl.edu/about/

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