New Worlds Reading Book Bash on May 10, 2024

Clifford the Big Red Dog with some excited children at a reading event

# An End-of-the-School-Year Book Bash!

Jacksonville families of VPK– 5th grade students are invited to attend New Worlds Reading’s 2024 Book Bash on Friday, May 10, at the Jacksonville Public Library – Main Library. Families will join New Worlds Reading as they spotlight the third year of the program helping Florida students meet grade-level expectations in reading. 

The milestone event will include reading activity stations, face painting, community resources, raffles, grab-and-go food and an exciting author read-aloud by Emma Carlson Berne, author of Animals to the Rescue! Balto – with free books to take home just in time for summer reading! 

New Worlds Reading was created to help the more than 960,000 eligible VPK – 5th grade students in Florida VPK programs, public schools and charter schools who are not yet reading on grade level. More than 49,000 of those students live in Duval County. The first-of-its-kind reading program is tackling this issue by delivering nine free books and reading activities each year directly to the doorsteps of eligible Florida students. Families can choose which books they’d like to receive, helping spark kids’ excitement about reading when they get a special package in the mail addressed to them with books tailored to their interests. Books also come with literacy resources and activities for families to use when reading together to strengthen children’s literacy skills and reading confidence.

Administered by the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, who has selected Scholastic as a partner, New Worlds Reading has shipped more than 5 million books to the homes of Florida children to date in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Braille. Early indicators show the program is making its mark: ninety percent of families say they love the resources and would recommend the program; 83 percent of caregivers say they spend more time reading with their children; 86 percent of children are reading more often and more confidently; and enrolled students made significant gains of up to 55 percent growth rates in reading achievement across the 2022–2023 school year.

“As a mom and educator, I know how important it is for children to have access to the tools they need to succeed,” said Dr. Shaunté Duggins, Associate Director of New Worlds Reading at the UF Lastinger Center for Learning. “After three years of supporting our striving readers through New Worlds Reading, we're extremely honored to continue to partner with Florida families to improve childhood literacy. We’re excited to share this milestone with Jacksonville families, educators, community members and beyond, as we work to get even more eligible students enrolled in the program.”

To be eligible for New Worlds Reading, a child must be in VPK and not yet meeting age-appropriate standards according to FAST Star Early Literacy or in K-5th grade and not yet reading on grade level in a public or charter school. Parents and caregivers who apply for their eligible kids to enroll in New Worlds Reading by June 10, 2024, will receive the free nine books and reading activities from the current school year, plus three bonus books for the summer season.

The New Worlds Reading team will host the 2024 New Worlds Reading Book Bash at the Jacksonville Public Library – Main Library from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 10, 2024. Families are encouraged to pre-register here for free.


The New Worlds Reading Initiative is hosting the 2024 New Worlds Reading Book Bash where participants will enjoy an evening full of family-friendly fun, an exciting story read aloud with Emma Carlson Berne, author of Animals to the Rescue! Balto, interactive reading activity stations, face painting, raffles, grab-and-go food, and more – with free books for families to take home in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole! Join us in honoring the third year of the program helping Florida students read on grade level. Families with eligible students are encouraged to apply today and get involved with New Worlds Reading.


In addition to local Jacksonville families and community members, special attendance will include Dr. Shaunté Duggins, Associate Director for the New Worlds Reading Initiative at the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, community vendors and even an appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog.


Date: May 10, 2024 
Time: 4:30 - 7 p.m. 
Location: Jacksonville Public Library – Main Library 
303 N Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202


Olivia Levada 
Edelman for New Worlds Reading Initiative


About the New Worlds Reading Initiative

New Worlds Reading is Florida’s free at-home literacy program to help eligible VPK through fifth-grade students strengthen literacy skills and foster a lifelong love of reading. Eligible kids can receive 9 free books tailored to their interests each school year with resources and activities for caregivers and children to use together. New Worlds Reading is administered by the UF Lastinger Center for Learning. Book titles are selected in partnership with the Florida Department of Education and Scholastic. Books and materials are available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Braille. Learn more at 

About Jacksonville Public Library

The mission of the Jacksonville Public Library is to enrich lives, build community and foster success by bringing people, information and ideas together. Last year, more than 3.1 million visits were made to Jacksonville Public Libraries, items were checked out more than 4.7 million times, and over 15,000 programs and services were offered to Duval County residents at the Main Library and 20 branch locations. For more information about the Jacksonville Public Library, call 255-BOOK (2665) or visit

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