TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — "She lost that moment that she was bullied. She forgot about the times her family was arguing and moving because that book saved her life," said Alicia Williams, an author.
Educators, authors, and education leaders gathered to discuss their love of reading and the importance of diverse reading materials. This comes after Governor Ron DeSantis announced book restrictions in the State of Florida including books in the classrooms.
Desantis earlier this month doubled down on limiting certain books in Florida schools saying, "Florida is the education state and that means providing students with a quality education free from sexualization and harmful materials that are not age appropriate."
Education officials believe that decision should be left up to teachers whether or not something is inappropriate.
"Teachers have made that judgment for over a century and they are going to continue to make that judgment call. What's happening right now is a small group of individuals often without any kids in the school system are trying to keep books from our kids and that's not okay," said FEA President Andrew Spar.
Now teachers, parents, authors, and librarians are taking a stand and fighting for kid's rights to a multitude of diverse reading material. The Florida Education Association holding their 'Great Florida Read In', giving away 25,000 free, diverse books for all age groups.
"That's what we want to do. We want to instill excitement. We want to instill in kids the joy of reading because we know the more books' kids have the more, they read, the more successful they're going to be in school and beyond," said Spar.
The event was also in conjunction with a press conference where speakers gathered to discuss just how books saved their life.
"We're in the fight of our lives because if someone took that book away, I would have never read 'Blubber,' by Judy Bloom. Because of my fat shaming that-- omg I'm not the only one that's dealing with being bullied," said Williams.
One message Spar wants everyone to take away from the event is the thrill of reading.
"Think back to the time when you were a kid and you cracked open that first book you ever got. It's exciting, it's invigorating," said Spar.