81K Florida students below reading level to receive monthly books

Posted at 11:32 AM, Jan 25, 2022

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis marked "Celebrate Literacy Week" at an elementary school Tuesday morning.

DeSantis went to the Crawfordville school to highlight the early reading initiatives and education standards changes in Florida.

“The importance of early childhood literacy is really significant,” DeSantis said. “Early illiteracy is tied to a higher chance of dropping out of school, a higher likelihood of engaging in criminal activity, and lower lifetime earnings. So, nearly 90% who fail to earn a high school diploma were struggling with reading by Grade 3. So our view in Florida is this early literacy is absolutely critical, you really spend those early years up until about third grade, learning how to read. Then after third grade, you really read in order to learn as more things are presented to yourself and your education in the classroom, and in life generally.”

DeSantis highlighted the creation of the New Worlds Reading Initiative, which delivers free books to students K-5 who are reading below their grade level.

Florida set a $177 million budget to make sure books were given to those students through the program.

“Today, we’re even happier to announce that more than 81,000 students are enrolled in the program and are receiving a new hard-copy book each month,” DeSantis said.