The Anna Maria Oyster Bars’ Dive into Reading program aims to improve children’s reading levels by combating “Summer Slide.”

Dive into Reading started in the Summer of 2017 when the Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Ellenton invited rising third-graders from two local Title I elementary schools to enjoy a hot breakfast and practice reading with a mentor.  In the fall, we were excited to learn that students who completed the program not only beat the  “Summer Slide,” but showed an increase in reading proficiency when they returned to school! “Summer Slide” is a loss of reading skills during the summer months that average between 2 to 3 months.

In just its first year, Dive into Reading received an outpouring of community support, winning recognition and awards from the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, School District of Manatee County, and Manatee Chamber of Commerce. Because of the students’ success and YOUR SUPPORT, we were able to expand significantly since that time.

In 2020 we were able to continue the program virtually because children were not in school. We offered the program via Zoom, twice a day, five days a week for four weeks. 75% of our Dive Into Reading children showed NO reading loss when they returned to school!  We were so excited to be able to help our children achieve such outstanding results when so many educational programs were not running.

This summer, we have been asked to mentor even more children and we look forward to doing it in person and being able to see their shining faces when they run to meet their mentors. We hope you can join us. 


SHOCKED is the only way we can describe how it felt to learn that Anna Maria Oyster Bar was the 2018 recipient of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation‘s Restaurant Neighbor Award, presented in Washington, DC.  Thanks to this award and the accompanying grant, we were able to expand the program significantly to serve more students.

Dive Into Reading was recognized in a very special way in 2019 when we were awarded the Leadership Florida Impact Award. The founders of Dive Into Reading, John & Amanda Horne are both graduates of Leadership Florida – John from Cornerstone Class 28 and Amanda from Education Class 4. This award recognized a business or nonprofit organization that has created a specific project, or body of work, whose impact is currently transforming the future of its region or beyond and has the potential to transform Florida as a whole. We are so grateful and cannot wait to see what the future brings!

We were proud and humbled to be recognized by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce & the School District of Manatee County for our 2017 “Dive into Reading” Summer Reading Program at the Chamber’s 27th Business & Education Partnership Awards breakfast.  Anna Maria Oyster Bar received the 2017 Barry Jones Business Partner Empowerment Award for this wonderful program, linked with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. 

We were also recognized with a special Gratitude Award from the School District of Manatee County at a School Board Meeting on Tuesday, September 26, 2017.  On behalf of the entire AMOB family, we couldn’t be more appreciative of the recognition.  

We certainly don’t do what we do for awards or accolades… but it’s always nice to feel appreciated and know that the impact on students truly matters.

And now we’re passing along the appreciation to you: all of this was only possible with the support of a host of community partners and volunteer mentors.   Subscribe to our Dive Into Reading emails to stay in-the-know!



We need your help! This program is made possible by the support of community partners and volunteer mentors. If you’d like to create a positive impact on a child’s future, please consider becoming a volunteer reading mentor for Dive into Reading.

The time commitment is a minimum of one morning a week from 8:45 am – 10:30 am for 4-5 weeks during June and part of July. (Dates vary a little each year depending on the school district summer school schedule).  Of course, we would love if you are able to do more than one weekly shift.

Thank you for wanting to help our community’s children.  Please enjoy this video created by our friend and award-winning journalist, Ray Collins, about Dive Into Reading! 



If you’re unable to volunteer to help our kids, you can still make an impact.  Click the button below to make a donation. Make sure to select the Dive Into Reading Fund.