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Sunshine State Young Readers Award Books (List and Reviews) for 2013-2014

Updated on May 22, 2014

See What Books Made the 2014-2015 List

Be sure to take a look at the SSYRA Lists for 2014-2015 for more great books!

Great Reading List for Kids

Are you looking for some great books for your child's reading list? Look no further than these fun and exciting books selected as nominations for the Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) and part of a great reading program!


What are the Sunshine State Young Readers Award books?

If you are a student or a parent of school-age children in the State of Florida, you've 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, meet and select 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.

Jump to 2013-2014 Sunshine State Book List for Grades 3-5

Jump to 2013-2014 Sunshine State Book List for Grades 6-8

Sunshine State Young Readers Award label on library book
Sunshine State Young Readers Award label on library book | Source

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Student Participation and Voting for Winning Book

School leadership, librarians, and media center staff determine how best to involve students in this great reading program. In order for schools to participate, the school must be registered as a participant.

Students may read from the list of 15 books within their grade level grouping. The school will set guidelines as to how to track student progress in reading the books - some schools may require a report to be written and/or a quiz to show reading and comprehension, such as an Accelerated Reader quiz, to aid in tracking student progress.

Some schools may have varying levels of recognition, such as one level of recognition for reading a set number of the 15 books, while different recognitions will be given to students who successfully read and pass quizzes on all of the 15 books. Our school provides a special end-of-year award to these students as well as a special luncheon with the principal for those who have read and passed all 15.

Student Voting

Student involvement in voting illustrates the ongoing support of school reading programs as well as the statewide reading initiative, Just Read Florida!

Students who read a specific number of books, participate in state-wide balloting and vote for their favorite of the 15 books within their grade level category. Once all votes have been tallied from all participating schools, one book from each of the elementary level and middle school level are selected and awarded as the winning titles and authors.

Nominate Favorite Books for 2014-2015

Do you or your child have a favorite book, or two, or three, that you'd love to see considered for nomination for next year?

Submit your nominations online!

Current Criteria for Nominations for Following Year

While the criteria for nominations may change from year to year, at the time of this writing, the current criteria includes:

  • Author must live in the Continental United States
  • Book copyright date must be 2010 or later
  • Book must be fiction
  • Content must be appropriate for students in grades 3-5 for the elementary awards, or grades 6-8 for the middle school awards

Where Can You Find Sunshine State Books?

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 library, local bookstore, or online.

2013-2014 Sunshine State Young Reader Award Nomination Titles for Elementary Grades 3-5

The following are the nominees for the Sunshine State Young Readers Award for the 2013-2014 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.*

My son and I are reading each one and will add our own summary as each book is completed.

1. Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind

  • Author: Tom Angleberger
  • Publisher: Amulet Books, 2012
  • Book Level: 4.6
  • AR Points: 4.0
  • Pages: 196 (Hardcover)
  • Our Vote: 4 Stars
  • Our Summary: Fake Mustache is another hilariously entertaining book by Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda series. In this book, 13 year old friends, Lenny and Casper, go into a novelty store where Casper spends his money on the all-too realistic looking Heidelberg Handlebar #7, a fake mustache that the owner kept under lock and key. The mustache seems to morph Casper immediately into an unrecognizable "man about town" named Fako Mustacho whose evil plans lead him to being nearly unanimously being elected as president. The townspeople are all fooled and no one believes his best friend Lenny who knows all along that the heists and strange happenings are really being done by a kid wearing a fake mustache and a suit. That is, until TV teenage icon Jodie O'Rodeo, her horse Soymilk, and Lenny team up and save the country. While I thought this book was a little too silly, my son was constantly giggling while he was reading. It's a funny book that boys, especially, should enjoy.

2. One and Only Ivan

  • Author: Katherine Applegate
  • Publisher: Harper, 2012
  • Book Level: 3.6
  • AR Points: 4.0
  • Pages: 305 (Hardcover)
  • Our Vote: 5 Stars
  • Our Summary: Ivan, a Silverback Gorilla, was raised by people until he got too big to stay in their home. His keeper moved him to the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade where The One and Only Ivan is the main attraction. Ivan enjoys his television shows, drawing things he sees in his "domain", throwing "me-balls" at onlookers, and talking with his friends Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. One day a baby elephant named Ruby is brought in to save the mall and Ivan, Stella, and Bob know that this isn't good news for Ruby. When Stella gets sick, Ivan promises her that he will take care of Ruby and get her out of this run-down place. With an ingenious plan that involves Ivan's drawings and a little help from a young human friend, a wonderful change comes to all. You'll find yourself cheering them all on as each page turns as well as wiping away a tear from time to time. While this is a fictional book, the story was inspired by the real Ivan who now lives at the Atlanta Zoo. This book was also named as the 2013 Newbery Medal winner.

3. Mousenet

  • Author: Prudence Breitrose
  • Publisher: Disney/Hyperion Books, 2011
  • Book Level: 6.0
  • AR Points: 11
  • Pages: 389 (Paperback)

4. Floors

  • Author: Patrick Carman
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2011
  • Book Level: 5.7
  • AR Points: 8
  • Pages: 261 (Paperback)

5. The Year of the Book

  • Author: Andrea Cheng
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2012
  • Book Level: 3.6
  • AR Points: 3
  • Pages: 146 (Paperback)
  • Our Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Our Review: Anna is a young Chinese-American girl in the fourth grade who has a great love of books, which she relies on as a source of company when her so-called friends often leave Anna feeling left out and hurt. The books take her to far away places where she finds comfort. When one of the friends, Laura, begins to turn to Anna during a difficult time, Anna would rather keep reading and immersing herself in learning the Chinese letters than subject herself to more potential hurt. Anna slowly gives Laura another chance and tries to be a friend back at a time when Laura needs it most. What she finds is something that she couldn't find in books - a best friend. This is a good book to reinforce the message that sometimes giving someone a second chance can result in a something unexpected happening - a chance to grow together with a new best friend.

6. Thomas and the Dragon Queen

  • Author: Shutta Crum
  • Publisher: Random House / Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
  • Book Level: 5.3
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 267 (Paperback)

7. Double Dog Dare

  • Author: Lisa Graff
  • Publisher: Penguin / Philomel Books, 2012
  • Book Level: 4.4
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 290 (Paperback)
  • Our Rating: 5 Stars
  • Our Review: Fourth grader Francine Halata wants to be the next anchor on the school's broadcast channel, but when classmates vote, she ties with the new kid, Kansas Bloom, who is a self-proclaimed King of Dares. So, the media club kids decide the winner will be whomever completes the most number of Double Dog Dares in the remaining 2 two weeks. The dares, ranging from lizard licking to green hair to tutus to stringing underwear up a pole, lead to realizing the two have more in common than they ever thought. In the end, they join forces with an awesome contraption that ends up saving the media club. This is a book that both boys and girls will enjoy. It is fun, and the kids will definitely enjoy reading about all of the crazy dares these two do!

8. Melonhead

  • Author: Katy Kelly
  • Publisher: Random House / Delacorte, 2009
  • Book Level: 4.0
  • AR Points: 4.0
  • Pages: 209 (Paperback)
  • Our Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Our Review: Proudly self-named Melonhead, Adam Melon is an adventurous 10-year old boy who rivals Dennis the Menace in his antics. Adam is always coming up with ideas for inventions and as his luck would have it, his school is having a re-invention fair, which challenges Adam and best friend, Sam, to come up with ideas to combine existing inventions to create a re-invention. As they come up with plans and put those plans into action, they find that some inventions aren't always good ones - a baby's pacifier keeper is a great idea, but not when duct tape is used to keep it in the baby's mouth! Through trials of success and failure, adventures with a mouse and a snake and a stuck foot in a tree, Adam and Sam create a great re-invention that wins them first place and moves them on to the regional competition. This is the first book in the Melonhead series.

9. Touch Blue

  • Author: Cynthia Lord
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2010
  • Book Level: 4.4
  • AR Points: 5.0
  • Pages: 186 (Paperback)
  • Our Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Our Summary: Tess is an 11 year old girl living in an island community with her family. When the school is threatened for closure by the state of Maine due to not enough students, Tess gets worried that the family will have to move since her mother is the school's only teacher and would have to seek work on the main land. To help with the situation, several foster children are brought into the community, including 13 year old Aaron who Tess's family takes in. Being bumped from family to family his entire life, Aaron is afraid to get too comfortable. Through lots of patience, wishing, and following her superstitious beliefs, like touching something blue, the town saves its school and Aaron finds a place he can finally call home.

10. Waiting for the Magic

  • Author: Patricia MacLachlan
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster - Atheneum, 2011
  • Book Level: 3.0
  • AR Points: 2.0
  • Pages: 143 (Paperback)
  • Our Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Our Summary: When the father of William and his younger sister, Elinor, leaves the family for an extended period of time in an effort to find himself, their mother takes the children to the local shelter and adopts four dogs: Neo, Bitty, Bryn, and Grace, as well as a cat, Lula. The pets fill the void during the father's absence. The children soon discover the magic that all of the animals can talk and it helps the children, especially William, through this difficult time. When their father returns, he, too, discovers the magic and it helps the family strengthen their relationships. William learns what family really is and that love can be found through the magic.

11. The Candymakers

  • Author: Wendy Mass
  • Publisher: Little Brown, 2010
  • Book Level: 5.0
  • AR Points: 15.0
  • Pages: 453 (Paperback)

12. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

  • Author: Joanne Rocklin
  • Publisher: Amulet Books, 2012
  • Book Level: 4.5
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 218 (Paperback)

13. Glory Be

  • Author: Augusta Scattergood
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2012
  • Book Level: 4.3
  • AR Points: 5.0
  • Pages: 202 (Hardcover)

14. The Wish Stealers

  • Author: Tracy Trivas
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster / Aladdin, 2010
  • Book Level: 4.4
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 283 (Paperback)
  • Our Rating: 5 Stars
  • Our Summary: Griffin Penshine believes in wishes and makes them on eyelashes, wishbones, and, of course, lucky pennies. One day, a peculiar old woman named Mariah saw Griffin and presented a box that she insisted Griffin have. Inside the box were dazzling, shiny, old pennies each with a label affixed to it. Mariah went on to say that many years ago she would watch people toss pennies into a fountain while they said their wish out loud and that night Mariah would remove the penny from the fountain - she was a Wish Stealer and the labels were their wishes. It was now up to Griffin to find people to redeem the wishes or return the lost wishes to the original people. If she failed, her own good wishes would not come true, however, any bad wishes would come true. In her journey to try to return or find a fit for the labeled wishes, Griffin struggles with the wrongs of wishing bad things on the mean girls and learns that people who put down others' dreams and wishes are also Wish Stealers. Along the way of redeeming the wishes, Griffin does many great deeds and finds herself becoming a Wish Giver. One thing I, as a parent, absolutely loved about this book was the ongoing reminder through the words of Griffin to not be a wish stealer. I was also inspired by the quotes at the end of each chapter, including one that has become my favorite, "No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." - Helen Keller

15. Janitors

  • Author: Tyler Whitesides
  • Publisher: Shadow Mountain, 2011
  • Book Level: 5.1
  • AR Points: 9.0
  • Pages: 300 (Hardcover)

Cast your child's UNOFFICIAL VOTE for which book should win for the Elementary 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.

2013-2014 Sunshine State Young Reader Award Nomination Titles for Middle School Grades 6-8

The following list of books was 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.

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.*

1. The Dead Boys

  • Author: Royce Buckingham
  • Publisher: Penguin / Putnam, 2010
  • Book Level: 5.3
  • AR Points: 5.0
  • Pages: 201 (Hardcover)

2. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies

  • Author: Mick Cochrane
  • Publisher: Random House / Yearling, 2009
  • Book Level: 5.1
  • AR Points: 7.0
  • Pages: 192 (Paperback)

3. Circus Galacticus

  • Author: Deva Fagan
  • Publisher:Houghton Mifflin / Harcourt, 2011
  • Book Level: 4.2
  • AR Points: 9.0
  • Pages: 291 (Paperback)

4. Free Thaddeus

  • Author: John Gosselink
  • Publisher: Amulet Books, 2010
  • Book Level: 7.0
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 231 (Paperback)

5. Chomp

  • Author: Carl Hiaasen
  • Publisher: Random House / Knopf, 2012
  • Book Level: 5.2
  • AR Points: 9.0
  • Pages: 290 (Paperback)

6. One for the Murphys

  • Author: Lynda Hunt
  • Publisher: Penguin / Nancy Paulsen, 2012
  • Book Level: 3.4
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 224 (Paperback)

7. Legend

  • Author: Marie Lu
  • Publisher: Penguin / Putnam, 2011
  • Book Level: 4.8
  • AR Points: 11.0
  • Pages: 305 (Paperback)

8. Cinder

  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Publisher: Macmillian / Feiwel & Friends, 2012
  • Book Level: 5.8
  • AR Points: 14.0
  • Pages: 390 (Paperback)

9. The False Prince

  • Author: Jennifer A Nielsen
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2012
  • Book Level: 5.1
  • AR Points: 12.0
  • Pages: 342 (Paperback)

10. Wonder

  • Author: R J Palacio
  • Publisher: Random House / Knopf, 2012
  • Book Level: 4.8
  • AR Points: 11.0
  • Pages: 315 (Hardcover)

11. Starters

  • Author: Lissa Price
  • Publisher: Random House / Delacorte Press, 2012
  • Book Level: 3.9
  • AR Points: 12.0
  • Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

12. Okay for Now

  • Author: Gary Schmidt
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin / Clarion Books, 2011
  • Book Level: 4.9
  • AR Points: 11.0
  • Pages: 360 (Paperback)

13. Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze

  • Author: Alan Silberberg
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster / Aladdin, 2011
  • Book Level: 5.5
  • AR Points: 6.0
  • Pages: 275 (Paperback)

14. Under the Green Hill

  • Author: Laura Sullivan
  • Publisher: Macmillian / Henry Holt, 2010
  • Book Level: 6.8
  • AR Points: 15.0
  • Pages: 308 (Paperback)

15. Warp Speed

  • Author: Lisa Yee
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press / Arthur A Levine Books, 2011
  • Book Level: 4.0
  • AR Points: 8.0
  • Pages: 311 (Paperback)

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 5.3 means that the book should be able to be read independently by a child in the third month of his/her fifth grade year. Book levels and Accelerated Reader (AR) points are based on the values found on the AR BookFinder website.


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