Every child deserves the opportunity to experience new worlds and achieve their full potential. We know this happens through positive connections among families, schools and communities. The perfect connector? Books.

The ability to read and learn are critical life skills necessary for launching children toward success. Yet we know many barriers exist for Florida’s students, including the lack of access to high-quality, enriching books. An effort launching this fall – the New Worlds Reading Initiative – aims to reduce those barriers through a coordinated approach to improve reading development.

This statewide book delivery and family-engagement program provides books monthly to students between kindergarten and 5th grade not reading on grade level. Recognizing that books alone won’t eradicate illiteracy, the initiative will engage school districts and community organizations to promote reading and build families’ capacity to improve children’s reading ability.

“Unlike other book-delivery programs, the New Worlds Reading Initiative combines comprehensive support that aligns with the existing focus on improving teachers’ capacity to provide quality instruction,” said Phil Poekert, director of the UF Lastinger Center for Learning. “This proven approach will improve literacy acquisition and ultimately create a continuum of support for parents, teachers and students.”

The New Worlds Reading Initiative is completely free to eligible students and families. Each participating child will receive a hard copy book, delivered each month throughout the school year. Book delivery will begin December 2021 with rolling enrollment to allow for maximum participation. This program is an important step in building the comprehensive system necessary for a literate Florida.

Literacy focused supports diagram