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~September is Literacy Month at Florida State Parks. Enjoy free entrance to state parks on Sunday, Sept. 8~


Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park volunteer Gretchen Scoggins reads to children at the park.

TALLAHASSEE –The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Park Service will celebrate National Literacy Month with special events at state parks statewide. The month will be celebrated in conjunction with International Literacy Day on Sunday, Sept. 8 and National Library Card Signup Month.

Florida's state parks will offer free* entrance on Sunday, Sept. 8 to visitors who bring a library card, a library book or who donate a new or gently-used, family friendly book (*excludes Skyway Fishing Pier State Park).

"Literacy is very important for people of all ages," said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione, "We are excited to celebrate reading and provide the best spots in the state to curl up with a good book to enjoy nature and the great outdoors."

The Florida Park Service, Department of Education and Department of State have joined together to stress the importance of literacy for all ages. This partnership follows the summertime activities of Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott, who encourages children to read through her Summer Literacy Adventure.

“Reading is the foundation for student learning and helps them prepare for success in life and in the classroom,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “Literacy Month puts a focus on strengthening students’ skills in a fun way. I encourage parents and their children to pick up a book and read together as they experience the wonderful adventures in state parks throughout the Sunshine State.“

More than 20 events are scheduled around the state in state parks throughout September. Statewide events will be held for children providing them with the opportunity to participate in activities, accentuating the importance of literacy. Book fairs will assist with issuing library cards. Children will hear stories, read from a variety of books and partake in outdoor crafts and activities.

Children authors and illustrators will make appearances and give hands-on interaction. For example, Evelyn Gilmer will read her book Maggie the Beagle with a Broken Tail and the Baby Sea Turtles at the Ochlockonee River State Park in Sopchoppy. At De Leon Springs State park in Deland, children will get the chance to meet with author Lucy Tobias, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association.

Activities and crafts will include scavenger hunts, adventure walks, games and prizes. Magic and the Gentle Carousel Therapy Horses will give performances of characters from their favorite books at O'Leno State Park in High Springs. Children can also complete craft projects at the Museum at Fort Mose Historic State Park. Book exchanges will take place where one can either donate or exchange books will other participants. Braille and books-on-tape are welcome.

Throughout September, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park will host events where park rangers spend time with 4th grade students in Hamilton County reading Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s Classic novel The Yearling. Students will read in class with their teachers and visit the state park to hear more about the pioneer family braving the wilds of what is now the Ocala National Forest. The Grand Finale will take place on Wednesday, September 25 when the final chapters of the book will be read by a Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings look-a-like.

Visit our website for a complete list of literacy activities at Florida State Parks.