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Laura W. Bush

Laura Bush is keenly aware of the opportunity she has to share her love of reading, especially with young children. She is using her role as First Lady to encourage people to share the magic of reading with children, to encourage Americans to pursue a teaching career and to showcase early childhood development initiatives that have been proven successful.

Mrs. Bush's passion for reading was sparked at an early age. As a child, Laura Bush dreamed of one day becoming a teacher. Her dream was prompted by an early introduction to books by her mother at the local public library in her birthplace of Midland, Texas. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Southern Methodist University and a master's degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as a public teacher and librarian in the Houston, Dallas and Austin school systems.

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Soon after coming to Washington, Mrs. Bush launched her early childhood development initiative - Ready to Read, Ready to Learn. This effort helps parents and caregivers prepare infants and young children for success in reading and learning when they enter school and helps ensure that once there they have well-trained, highly qualified teachers. As part of this initiative, Mrs. Bush hosted two White House summits which brought together the leading researchers and practitioners in the areas of early childhood cognitive development and teacher recruitment and preparation.

Also as part of her Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Initiative, Mrs. Bush launched a series of magazines for parents of newborns. Modeled after her project in Texas, the magazines provide timely information to parents on child health, safety, nutrition and cognitive development. Called “Healthy Start, Grow Smart”, the magazine has thirteen editions – newborn through 12 months of age - and is being published in English and Spanish. Through grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the magazines will be mailed directly each month to mothers with newborns who receive Medicaid services.

Inspired by her successful Texas Book Festival, Mrs. Bush and the Library of Congress launched in September 2001 the first National Book Festival, which featured award-winning authors from across the nation and was attended by tens of thousands of people. She is also hosting a White House literary series called “White House Salute to America’s Authors”, which thus far has celebrated the life and works of Mark Twain and the writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Through these efforts Mrs. Bush is sharing her love of reading and good literature with America’s families and children.

Mrs. Bush also promotes the arts, and enjoyed showcasing the works of Texas artists at the Governor's Mansion and State Capitol in Austin, Texas. She now serves as the Honorary Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which is focusing on creative ways to bring the arts to America’s youth.

Laura and George W. Bush were married in Midland in 1977. They are the proud parents of twin girls, Barbara and Jenna, who were born in 1981 and are named after their grandmothers.

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