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Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) Books (List and Reviews) for 2014-2015

Updated on July 28, 2014

For a great list of books to get your child reading during summer vacation, look no further than these fun and exciting books selected as nominations for the Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA)!

The below lists are categorized by age groups and are nominations for the 2014-2015 school year.

Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) Book List 2014-2015
Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) Book List 2014-2015 | Source

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If you're looking for other great books, be sure to take a look at the Sunshine State Book Lists for 2013-2014.

Elementary and Middle School students and parents in the State of Florida have probably heard the kids, teachers, or librarian mention "Sunshine State Books". So, what exactly are these books? Hint: They're not about our great state of Florida!

Each year, the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) and the Florida Department of Education sponsor the annual program known as the Sunshine State Young Readers Award program. The program was started in 1983 as a way to encourage and motivate Florida students to read.

A committee, consisting of library media specialists in the state of Florida, meets and selects 15 books as nominees for the annual award. These books are selected for their literary value, their appeal to many students, a variety of genres, and correlation to various curriculum, among other reasons. Many of these books have been nominated for consideration by students and parents, as well as librarians.

Student Voting

At the end of the school year, qualified students are given the opportunity to vote for their favorite book from the list they've been reading from. Learn more about how students can cast their votes.

Jump to 2014-2015 Sunshine State Book List for Grades 3-5

Jump to 2014-2015 Sunshine State Book List for Grades 6-8

Submit Nominations for 2016

Do you or your child have a favorite book, or two, or three, that you'd love to see considered for nomination for 2016? The deadline to submit your nominations is June 1, 2014.

Submit your nominations online!

Nominating Your Favorite Books for 2016

The criteria for nominations for the 2015-2016 year are only slightly different than those of last year. The current criteria includes:

  • Book must be fiction
  • Author must live in North America
  • Book copyright date must be 2011 or later
  • Content must be appropriate for students across Florida in grades 3-5 for the elementary awards, or grades 6-8 for the middle school awards

Where to Find Sunshine State Books

When the lists are first published, usually just in time for summer reading, finding the books below in your local library may prove a bit challenging as they are checked out just as quickly as they are returned. Your child's school library should have most, if not all, of the books that have been nominated for the current year. You may also find these books at your local bookstore or online through any of the Amazon links below.

2014-2015 Sunshine State Young Reader Award (SSYRA) Nominated Titles for Elementary Grades 3-5

The following are the nominees for the Sunshine State Young Readers Award for the 2014-2015 school year for elementary grades 3rd through 5th.

To assist in selecting books that are right for your child's reading level, the book levels and the Accelerated Points (AR) points assigned to these books are included below.*

I have also included the page counts and word counts, so you may select books that may be just the right length for your child.

As my son and I read each of these books, we will add our own rating and summary as they are completed.

1. Dorko the Magnificent

  • Author: Andrea Beaty
  • Publisher: Amulet Books, 2013
  • ISBN: 1419706381
  • Book Level: 4.7
  • AR Points: 5.0
  • Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 35,681
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:


2. Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1)

  • Author: Caroline Carlson
  • Publisher: Harper, 2013
  • ISBN: 0062194348
  • Book Level: 6.1
  • AR Points: 12.0
  • Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 75,396
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

3. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

  • Author: Chris Grabenstein
  • Publisher: Random House, 2013
  • ISBN: 037587089X
  • Book Level: 4.5
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 291 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 47,493
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

4. The Adventures of Beanboy

  • Author: Lisa Harkrader
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2012
  • ISBN: 0547550782
  • Book Level: 4.3
  • AR Points: 5.0
  • Pages: 240 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 37,098
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

5. The Adventures of a South Pole Pig

  • Author: Chris Kuntz
  • Publisher: Harcourt, Inc., 2013
  • ISBN: 0547634552
  • Book Level: 4.6
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 278 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 38,878
  • Our Vote: 4 Stars
  • Our Summary: Flora is a young pig raised on a farm that also trains dogs for Antarctic expeditions. She is an adventurous pig with lots of "spirit" and spending the days exploring her pen are not enough. She wants adventure. After being captured in her pen to "join" an upcoming expedition, she thinks she was chosen because the farmer saw how much she wanted to pull the sled with the dogs. She doesn't realize she's onboard the ship for "other" reasons. After a shipwreck where she saves the Captain, the crew reaches Antarctica and with little food available, they all look at her like a slab of bacon and chops, that is until her friends - a dog and cat - hide her. When the most of the crew leaves camp in search of possibly being rescued, the dog, cat, boy, and Flora have their own South Pole adventure and Flora finally gets her chance to become a sled pig.

6. Elvis and the Underdogs

  • Author: Jenny Lee
  • Publisher: Balzer & Bray, 2013
  • ISBN: 0062235559
  • Book Level: 4.7
  • AR Points: 9.0
  • Pages: 298 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 63,635
  • Our Vote: 5 Stars
  • Our Summary: Benji has spent a lot of his life in the hospital and even has a punch-card which the 10th punch gets him a fun surprise from his favorite nurse. With the latest stay, his doctor feels better with him wearing either a helmet all the time or a special service dog. After much pleading with his parents, Elvis, a massive Newfoundland dog, arrives. And he can talk! He teaches Benji that letting his guard down to others may result in some pretty special friendships...and that talking dog, was right! When Benji started forming his own "pack," he no longer felt sad, alone, and different.

7. Capture the Flag

  • Author: Kate Messner
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2013
  • ISBN: 0545419743
  • Book Level: 4.5
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 231 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 44,583
  • Our Vote: 4.5 Stars
  • Our Summary: A chance meeting of Anna, José, and Henry, turns into a grand adventure in the Washington D.C. airport, where they are all grounded thanks to a huge snow storm. When the news anchor announces that the historic flag that inspired the "Star Spangled Banner" was stolen the night before, Anna thought that perhaps the thief was there in the airport, too. After seeing a strange tattooed man, whom they called "Snake Arm," acting suspiciously, they set off to figure out what he did with the flag. But how come a Senator who is running for President keeps popping up? And what exactly is the Silver Jaguar Society? A lot of adventure in this fun historical-fiction book as the three kids are in a race against time to help capture the flag.

8. Hooper Finds a Family: A Hurricane Katrina Dog's Survival Tale

  • Author: Jane Paley
  • Publisher: Harper, 2011
  • ISBN: 0062011030
  • Book Level: 3.4
  • AR Points: 4.0
  • Pages: 144 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 29,083
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

9. When Life Gives You O.J.

  • Author: Erica Perl
  • Publisher: Yearling, 2013
  • ISBN: 0375859020
  • Book Level: 4.3
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 195 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 43,218
  • Our Vote: 4 Stars
  • Our Summary: Zelly, as she's called by family and friends, wants a dog...badly, but her parents aren't quite convinced. Zelly's grandfather, Ace, suggests a "practice dog" and presents her with an empty orange juice container to turn into a dog. He insists that walking, feeding, and even cleaning up after the "dog" will show her parents she's responsible enough and will convince them that she can take care of a real dog. Although she doesn't think it will work, she reluctantly takes care of O.J. until, after some ridicule, she tosses O.J. away. A new friend and Ace remind her that she can't just toss things away when they don't work how you want them to and she has to put everything into it if it has a chance to work. She decides to give it her all and embrace O.J. fully. Does Ace's plan for Zelly work? You'll have to read to find out!

10. Abby Carnelia's One and Only Magical Power

  • Author: David Pogue
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook, 2010
  • ISBN: 1596433841
  • Book Level: 4.6
  • AR Points: 8.0
  • Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 53,914
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

11. Stranded (Book #1)

  • Author: Jeff Probst
  • Publisher: Puffin, 2013
  • ISBN: 0142424242
  • Book Level: 4.5
  • AR Points: 4.0
  • Pages: 176 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 25,402
  • Our Vote: 5 Stars
  • Our Summary: Vanessa, Buzz, Carter, and Jane have been recently become siblings through their parents' marriage, so their uncle offers to take them on a vacation sailing trip. All goes well until a horrible storm comes. As the boat starts to sink, the adults prepare the lifeboats but get swept away from the sailboat, leaving the kids all alone. The storm pushes the wrecked boat onto a deserted island where the kids must find a way to work together to survive and hopefully be rescued. This is an adventure-filled book that was hard to put down.
    NOTE: I highly recommend also getting Book 2 (174 pages) and Book 3 (182 pages) in the series, since the ends of books 1 and 2 leave you waiting to read if the kids are going to finally be rescued (which doesn't happen until book 3)!

12. The Sasquatch Escape (The Imaginary Veterinary Book #1)

  • Author: Suzanne Selfors
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Co., 2013
  • ISBN: 031622569X
  • Book Level: 4.2
  • AR Points: 4.0
  • Pages: 201 + Bonus activities (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 25,408
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

13. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

  • Author: Liesel Shurtliff
  • Publisher: Knopf, 2013
  • ISBN: 030797796X
  • Book Level: 4.4
  • AR Points: 9.0
  • Pages: 272 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 61,156
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

14. King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige

  • Author: Wes Tooke
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2013
  • ISBN: 1442433477
  • Book Level: 5.6
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 156 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 39,582
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

15. 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / 1 Dog = Chaos

  • Author: Vivian Vande Velde
  • Publisher: Holiday House, 2012
  • ISBN: 0823423646
  • Book Level: 4.4
  • AR Points: 1.0
  • Pages: 68 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 10,079
  • Our Vote: 4.5 Stars
  • Our Summary: A funny, domino-effect story when Twitch, the school ground squirrel, attempts to evade a swoop from an owl, steps on the nose of Cuddles, the principal's dog, which leads to a chase in the school among all the classrooms where each of the class pets gets involved - all before the day of an artist arriving to judge the student's various pieces of art. An easy read, with each chapter from the perspective of one of the animals, all leading up to a chaotic, colorful, and wet ending.

Cast your child's UNOFFICIAL VOTE for which book should win for the Elementary School Level of nominations for 2014-2015

See results

The poll above is just for fun for the readers of this page and in no way has any impact on the final outcomes of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award winner.

2014-2015 Sunshine State Young Reader Award (SSYRA) Nominated Titles for Middle School Grades 4-8

The following is a list of books determined by the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Committee to be the nominations for the middle school level of young readers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades for the 2014-2015 school year.

To assist in selecting books that are right for your child's reading level, the book levels and the Accelerated Points (AR) points assigned to these books are included below.*

I have also included the page counts and word counts, so you may select books that may be an appropriate length for your child.

Our goal is to complete the elementary grade books first and then move into these. As we read each of these books, we will add our own rating and summary as they are completed.

1. I, Emma Freke

  • Author: E. J. Atkinson
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books, 2012
  • ISBN: 0761385002
  • Book Level: 4.9
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 240 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 47,332
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

2. Doll Bones

  • Author: Holly Black
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry, 2013
  • ISBN: 1416963987
  • Book Level: 5.4
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 47,642
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

3. The Raft

  • Author: S. A. Bodeen
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2012
  • ISBN: 125002739X
  • Book Level: 4.4
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 256 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 46,515
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

4. Small as an Elephant

  • Author: Jennifer Jacobson
  • Publisher: Candlewick, 2013
  • ISBN: 0763663336
  • Book Level: 5.3
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 288 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 47,985
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

5. Homesick

  • Author: Kate Klise
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2012
  • ISBN: 1250008425
  • Book Level: 3.9
  • AR Points: 5.0
  • Pages: 192 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 34,673
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

6. Ungifted

  • Author: Gordon Korman
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray, 2012
  • ISBN: 0061742678
  • Book Level: 5.2
  • AR Points: 8.0
  • Pages: 288 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 49,680
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

7. The Lions of Little Rock

  • Author: Kristin Levine
  • Publisher: Putnam, 2012
  • ISBN: 0142424358
  • Book Level: 4.1
  • AR Points: 10.0
  • Pages: 320 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 70,793
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

8. Far Far Away

  • Author: Tom McNeal
  • Publisher: Knopf, 2013
  • ISBN: 0375849726
  • Book Level: 5.3
  • AR Points: 14.0
  • Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 93,904
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

9. Apothecary

  • Author: Maile Meloy
  • Publisher: Puffin, 2013
  • ISBN: 0142422061
  • Book Level: 4.9
  • AR Points: 11.0
  • Pages: 384 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 75,862
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

10. The Ghost of Graylock

  • Author: Dan Poblocki
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2012
  • ISBN: 0545402689
  • Book Level: 4.8
  • AR Points: 9.0
  • Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
  • Word Count: 59,004
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

11. Dead City

  • Author: James Ponti
  • Publisher: Aladdin, 2013
  • ISBN: 1442441305
  • Book Level: 5.1
  • AR Points: 8.0
  • Pages: 304 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 52,705
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

12. Half Upon a Time

  • Author: James Riley
  • Publisher: Aladdin, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781416995944
  • Book Level: 5.5
  • AR Points: 11.0
  • Pages: 416 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 74,015
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

13. Endangered

  • Author: Eliot Schrefer
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2014
  • ISBN: 0545165776
  • Book Level: 5.5
  • AR Points: 11.0
  • Pages: 288 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 73,806
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

14. The Boy at the End of the World

  • Author: Greg van Eekhout
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2012
  • ISBN: 1599909189
  • Book Level: 5.3
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 240 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 42,474
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

15. Variant

  • Author: Robison Wells
  • Publisher: HarperTeen, 2012
  • ISBN: 9780062026095
  • Book Level: 4.5
  • AR Points: 12.0
  • Pages: 400 (Paperback)
  • Word Count: 79,922
  • Our Vote:
  • Our Summary:

Cast your child's UNOFFICIAL VOTE for which book should win for the Middle School Level of Nominations!

See results

The poll above is just for fun for the readers of this page and in no way has any impact on the final outcomes of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award winner.

* As an example, a book level of 6.1 means that the book should be able to be read independently by a child in the first month of his/her sixth grade year. Book levels, word counts, and Accelerated Reader (AR) points are based on the values found on the AR BookFinder website.

© 2014 Keely Deuschle

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      There are so many interesting titles posted here, I really would love to read some of these myself. I remember when my child and grandkids were so into this level of reading. Great post.