SSYRA Reading Programs

The Sunshine State Young Reader's Award Program is a statewide reading motivation program for students in grades 3-5 and 6-8. The program, co-sponsored by the School Library Media Services Office of the Department of Education and the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME), began in 1983. The purpose of the SSYRA Program is to encourage students to read independently for personal satisfaction, based on interest rather than just reading level. Sunshine State books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. Students are encouraged to read books that are above, on, and below their tested reading level in order to improve their reading fluency and have a greater exposure to literature.

SSYRA 3-5 2020-2021 Books and Descriptions

Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters by Kim Harrington
What happens when your cool virtual-reality game...becomes REAL? Monsters Unleashed—where you catch virtual-reality monsters on your cellphone—is one of the hottest mobile games around, and Bex and Charlie just can’t stop playing. But when they find a strange machine and switch it on, the WiFi goes down… and Bex’s entire catalog of monsters vanishes! And that’s not the worst of it: all the creatures she’s collected on her
phone escape into the real world. Can the friends nab the beasts before they become monster lunch?

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes
Beatrice does her best thinking upside down. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned! Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?

Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen by Niki Lenz
When you’re a Buttman, the label “bully” comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely. After her mom leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is also a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to Hollywood Hills Stunt Camp! But it’s hard to be kind when no one shows you kindness, so a few cheesy pranks may still be up her sleeve...

Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn
Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond--Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When a summer trip doesn't go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another's shoes.

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?

How I Became a Spy: a Mystery of WWII London by Deborah Hopkinson
Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces. But when a young woman goes missing, leaving behind a coded notebook, Bertie is determined to solve the mystery. With the help of his friends and his trusty pup, Bertie must decipher the notebook in time to stop a double agent from spilling the biggest secret of all to the Nazis.

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
The Rylance family is stuck. Dad's got writer's block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school-- even though he can't draw. Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance's sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together--and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything. It's not until Inkling goes missing that this family has to face the larger questions of what they-- and Inkling--truly need.

Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
Klawde is not your average cat. He has sharp claws. Fine fur. And, being the High Commander of the planet Lyttyrboks, has an entire world of warlike cats at his command. He’s an emperor from another planet until he is exiled to Earth. He’s cruel. He’s cunning. He’s brilliant… and he’s about to become Raj Banerjee’s best friend. 

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel
When Olga crosses paths with a weird creature and becomes the first kid to discover the species olgamus , she is ecstatic! What does an olgamus eat? How does it poop? Why does its burp sound like the word rubber? With her trusty observation notebook and the help of a librarian, a shopkeeper, and some friends, Olga sets out to do science—learning the facts about her smelly, almost-furry pal and searching for him when he goes missing.

Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger
Everyone makes mistakes. But what happens when your mistake hurts someone else? Told in eight perspectives–including one in graphic novel form, Operation Frog Effect celebrates standing up and standing together and tells the unforgettable story of how eight very different kids take responsibility for their actions and unite for a cause they all believe in.

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the space shuttle Challenger launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a foster home. While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understood how intelligent and special Nova is. Every day Nova is counting down to the launch and Bridget’s hopeful return.

Power Forward by Hena Khan
Fourth grader Zayd Saleemhas some serious hoop dreams. He’s not just going to be a professional basketball player. He’s going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows it deep in his soul. It’s his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way. His mom and dad don’t get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd’s parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn’t allowed to play basketball anymore. As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream. 

Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming
When a movie director travels to Berlin searching for his next big star--a dog!--he finds Etzel, a fierce, highly trained three-year-old German shepherd police dog. He sees past the snarls and growls and brings Etzel back to Hollywood, where the dog is renamed Strongheart. Strongheart soon becomes a movie sensation.

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K Ogburn
For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl, or an ivory horn curling from its forehead. When Eric discovers that a unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed. He's thrust into a world of magical creatures just as his world at home starts to crumble. A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life can take extraordinary turns.

Voyage of the Dogs by Greg Van Eekout
Dogs in space! The Barkonauts aboard the spaceship Laika are en route to set up an outpost on a distant planet. When the mission takes a disastrous turn, the Barkonauts on board suddenly find themselves completely alone on their severely damaged ship. Survival seems impossible. But these dogs are Barkonauts - and Barkonauts always complete their mission. 

SSYRA 6-8 2020-2021 Books and Descriptions
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
After sprouting horns and feathers, Charlie Hernandez realizes that all those myths his grandmother has told him might just be real. This happens right at the same time that his home burns down and his parents have gone missing. Charlie and his friend Violet embark on a journey discovering that Charlie’s life is linked to the balance between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. Charlie encounters characters from Mexican-American, Guatemalan, and Brazilian myths and he travels through parts of Florida and the mythological world. He is trying to hide all the things changing about himself from his friends while searching for his parents, code switching his language between monsters, translating for Violet, and trying desperately to find and save his parents.
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
The Terrible Tower, the Springfield Skyscraper are just two of the names that Marcus Vega is called as a result of being 180 pounds and six feet tall in 8th grade. Kids clear out of his way when he walks down the hall. But in reality, if they could see Marcus with his little brother Charlie, who has Down’s Syndrome, they would see a gentle giant. Marcus helps feed Charlie when their single mother is working late. He helps bathe him, get him ready for bed, and he lets Charlie tickle him until he can hardly breathe. So when the school bully calls Charlie the “R” word, Marcus punches him in the face and is suspended. This leads his mother to take the family on a trip to Puerto Rico to meet their father’s family although their father abandoned them ten years ago. Marcus sees this as an opportunity to search for his father, but he’ll find much more as he journeys across the beautiful island with the support of his loving family.
New Kid by Jerry Craft
Jordan wants to go to art school. Jordan’s parents want him to get the best education possible. Unfortunately for Jordan this means going to a fancy school in a wealthy neighborhood with kids whose family members have buildings named after them. Jordan has to learn how to adjust to his new environment where he is one of a handful of minorities, and also how to navigate between his two worlds - the mostly minority neighborhood he lives in and the upper class community where his school is located. At school he has to handle stereotypes, racism, bullying, and figuring out where and how he fits in both in school and at home. Will Jordan find his place or will he look for a new school?
Spark by Sarah Beth Durst
Twelve year old Mina lives on her family’s farm in Alorria, a land where there’s never extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and thunderstorms. Weather is controlled by storm beasts, dragon-like creatures with the face of a lizard and the personality of a puppy. The five types of storm beasts are sun, rain, wind, snow, and lightning. Mina is so quiet, everyone assumes her storm beast will be a sun, rain, or snow beast when it finally hatches. When Pixit hatches, he’s a lightning beast which “must be a mistake,” since lightning guardians are loud and brave. However, Mina stands her ground and won’t even consider giving up her beast. Though quiet and sometimes self-doubting, Mina discovers her inner strength when she leaves home to start Lightning School. Learning how to fly into storms and grab lightning with their hands is incredibly exciting. When she discovers that Alorria’s perfectly balanced weather comes at a horrific cost to the people on the other side of the mountains, she’s horrified. Though Mina has never been one to speak up, lives are at stake and she’s determined to get her fellow students to rise up against powers that be.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
12 year old Coyote Sunrise and her father, Rodeo, have been living in a renovated school bus for the past five years since Coyote’s mother passed away. They travel all over the country following their whims--the only place they won’t go is back home. All of a sudden, Coyote’s grandmother calls to let her know that the place where Coyote, Coyote’s mom, and her sisters buried a memory box is about to be dug up and destroyed. Coyote is desperate to get home to save their box but she has to find a way to steer her dad back home without him knowing where they are going. Along the way they pick up several new friends.
Scouts by Shannon Greenland
The Scouts are best friends who have done everything together since kindergarten. But now it’s the summer before their 7th grade year begins and everything is changing. Annie is the glue that is holding their friendship together and she plans a camping trip to watch the meteor shower in an attempt to keep the friends from drifting apart. When one of the meteors lands close by, they decide to set out on an adventure to find it. Their overnight trip quickly runs into trouble when they figure out that these are no ordinary meteors and they have to run for their lives from the crazy Mason mountain clan.
Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald
An accident at the end of preseason football practice leaves 13-year-old Teddy Youngblood with a brain injury and in a coma...or was it an accident? Rumors swirl as Teddy, the team, and the town try to recover, and while Teddy is unable to share what he knows, there are plenty of others who just aren’t willing to. What really happened at the Rookie Rumble? Will anyone find the courage to tell the truth?
Deep Water by Ashley Watt Key
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t go down is what Julie’s Dad has told her ever since she learned to dive. But when they have booked a dive trip for four times the going rate, she is forced to take over for him. What should have been a normal dive turns into a living nightmare for Julie along with Hank & Shane Jordan, their clients. The Jordans, a father and son team of reckless divers, make mistakes on the seafloor that goes from bad to worse. The dive boat has vanished, Hank has bends, and they are lost and drifting toward blue water where large predators lurk. Sharks, jellyfish, hypothermia and exhaustion - and Mother Nature at her worst challenge Julie and Shane to overcome their fears and take on each challenge. Deep Water is a fast-paced action based story with plenty of suspense and dangers.
Song For a Whale by Lynee Kelly
Twelve-year-old Iris is the only Deaf student in her school. She has a keen interest in electronics, and spends her time fixing old radios for a local antiques store. In science class, Iris learns about Blue 55, the loneliest whale in the world. The whale swims about without a pod, and cannot communicate with other whales. In some ways, Iris identifies with the lonely whale, and she is determined to create a song for him. Once the song is composed, Iris and her grandmother secretly embark on a three-thousand-mile journey that takes them to the coast of Alaska, where Blue is swimming. Along the way, they undergo life-changing experiences.
Float by Laura Martin
Emerson is in for the summer of his life at Camp Outlier- if he survives the summer. Camp Outlier is a special camp for RISK {Reoccurring Incidents of the Strange Kind} kids. The last place Emerson wants to be is at a government mandated summer camp for RISK kids like him, so he’s shocked when he actually starts having fun at camp—and he even makes some new friends. But it’s not all canoeing and capture the flag at Camp Outlier. The summer of fun takes a serious turn when Emerson and his friends discover that one of their own is hiding a deadly secret that puts all of their lives in danger.
Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
When ink from Ethan's father's sketchbook comes to life and jumps off the page, Ethan, his sister Sarah, and his father find that Inkling helps each of them in unique ways as they deal with grief and struggle to move forward following the death of Ethan's mother.
City Spies by James Ponti
Puerto Rican born, Sara Martinez (real name, Brooklyn) finds herself in jail after hacking into the city’s computer system in order to expose her foster parents as abusive frauds. Her inept court-appointed lawyer is no help, but she is offered a wild proposition she honestly can’t refuse---join Britain’s M16 as a kid operative. After her release from prison, she is flown to Scotland, where she meets the rest of the City Spies...kids from around the world who have their own unique set of skills in logic, puzzles, sneakiness, etc. Of course, there’s also Mother, a white Englishman who has taken in the “city spies” sending them to boarding school part of the day and helping them fine tune their “skills” the rest of the time. He has a special mission for them in Paris involving a competition they need to do just well enough to make the top ten. Their real objective is to protect the eccentric billionaire sponsor from an evil villain. Fun book for thrill seekers looking for adventure!
We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey
When the last humans from Earth need a new home, it looks like Planet Choom would be perfect. There’s only one problem, the Zhuri already live there! One family is chosen to represent humanity to the Zhuri to evaluate if the two species can live together. Unfortunately, that means Lan and Ila will have to go to Zhuri school! Will they be able to fit in? Can they make a good impression on the Zhuri? And what if there are some Zhuri who don’t want them there in the first place? Find out all the answers in this sci-fi story from Geoff Rodkey!
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
In India, 11-year-old Viji and her 12-year-old sister, Rukku, run away to Chennai after their violent father strikes out at them. On the city streets, the sisters find shelter by a bridge, adopt a stray dog, and meet brothers Mathu and Arul, who quickly become a kind of family to them.They all soon form a family of sorts, sharing food and supplies and laughing together about the absurdities of life. Rukku’s intellectual disability has made her dependent on Viji, who gradually learns that her sister is more capable than she had thought. Despite their determination, hunger and sickness eventually take their toll on the children. Viji must lean on her new family to learn to cope with grief and move on.

The mission of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. Program is to develop Kindergarten through Second Grade students' interest in reading for pleasure by exposing them to a wide range of appropriate literature. Sunshine State Jr. books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. Students are encouraged to listen to these books read to them, read them in a small group setting, or read independently to develop skills in fluency and comprehension.
SSYRA Jr K-2 2020-2021 Books and Descriptions
Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas, written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey
In this rhyming book, Brian tries to get his fellow piranhas to try his fruit and vegetable platter, but they all prefer meat, especially human parts!

Can I Be Your Dog? Written and illustrated by Troy Cummings
In this story told in letters, Arfy, the homeless dog writes to all the people on Butternut street to try to find a family. Won’t anyone open their heart–and home–to a lonesome dog? Readers will be happily surprised to learn just who steps up to adopt Arfy.
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, written by Jamie L. B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Told in second person, readers discover that no matter how clear your gift list is, grandma sometimes has her own plans. When you get a lemon tree instead of a cool electronic device, you learn to make the best of the situation.

Dandy, written by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Daddy is proud of his perfect lawn and is ready to remove the dandelion weed ruining it until his daughter Sweetie names it and tells Daddy it is her best friend. Every time Daddy thinks he can sneak past Sweetie and destroy the dandelion, Sweetie is there to stop him. What happens when Sweetie goes to school? Read this hilarious book to find out.
Pencil : a Story With a Point, written by Ann Ingalls, Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pencil and his boy Jackson are a great pair: they draw, they sketch, they scribble. But then Jackson gets Tablet and Pencil finds himself dumped in the dreaded junk drawer! How will Pencil ever reclaim Jackson’s attention? With the help of some new pun-loving friends , Pencil sketches out a plan to draw Jackson back into their friendship.
Superbuns! Written and illustrated by Diane Kredensor
Kindness is Buns' superpower, but her know-it-all sister, Blossom knows everything about everything and she is sure kind is kind but not a superpower. Can Buns prove her wrong and prove kindness is truly a superpower?
T-Bone the Drone, written and illustrated by Shanda McCloskey
Lucas has a new best friend when he brings T-Bone the Drone home from the store. They enjoy playing, flying, and even recharging together–but Lucas has been spending so much time with his new toy that he ignores his real friends. When a ball sails over the fence where a scary dog lives, it’s the perfect opportunity for Lucas and T-Bone to do what friends do best: work together! It turns out that they’ll need help from the whole team, though, to save the day.
Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen, written and illustrated by Beth Mills
First grader Ella McKeen is the undisputed kickball queen until a new girl named Riya shows up—and shows her up at recess. How does Ella handle losing? By throwing herself on the grass and screaming while the rest of the class watches her fall apart. Yikes!
The Proudest Blue, written by Ibtihaj Muhammad, illustrated by Hatem Aly
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
The Panda Problem, written by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Hannah Marks
Every story needs a problem. But Panda doesn’t have a problem. Unless Panda is the problem. Just who is the main character of this story? A funny book about how books work.
Smell My Foot, written and illustrated by Cece Bell
Meet Chick and Brain. And their friend Spot. Chick likes to follow the rules. Brain might not be as smart as he looks. And Spot just wants to eat lunch. In a graphic reader loaded with verbal and visual humor, Cece Bell offers a comical primer on good manners gone awry.
Truman the Dog (My Furry Foster Family), written by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Melanie Demmer
"T" is for Truman, tricks, and TROUBLE! Truman the black lab might be an older rescue
dog, but he's still got enough mischief beneath his collar to keep eight-year-old Kaita
Takano and her animal-fostering family on their toes from morning till night.

Frank & Bean, written by Jamie Michalak, Illustrated by Bob Kolar
Frank likes peace and quiet. He likes his tent, his pencil, and writing in his secret notebook. Bean likes noise. He likes his bus, his trumpet and making music. Loud music. But Bean is missing something: he does not have words. What will happen if Frank shares his words with Bean?
The Quiet Boat Ride, written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
Fox and Chick are off on three new adventures involving a boat ride, a mysterious box, and an early morning trip to see the sunrise. Though they are very different, these two friends always have a fun time together.
Happy Fell, written by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Arnold wants to celebrate the start of the cozy autumn season indoors. Louise does not. When they decide to enjoy the season on their own, they each discover celebrations aren't the same if they're not celebrating together.  

At Rymfire students can participate in these programs in a variety of ways to be able to vote on their favorite, collect brag tags, compete in a battle of the books competition, reading celebrations and more.