Remarks by Mrs. Bush Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries Grant Awards Harry T. Stewart, Sr. Elementary School, New York, NY Monday, May 10, 2004


Thank you, Elizabeth for the great introduction. Principal Dono said that you are a great reader and I can see that she’s right. Thanks to the Color Guard and to the P.S. 92 Chorus for their spirited performance. Thank you, Principal Dono, and all of you for welcoming me to your school. Students, you are lucky to have a great principal, and good teachers and librarians, who are committed to making sure you learn to read and read well. They also tell me that you love pop quizzes – and I have one for you. What do Principal Dono and I have in common? Any ideas? The correct answer is that we both love books and we both love to read. And we want you to love books and reading as much as we do.

I’m here today to share the news that your school is receiving a grant from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries to add new books to your library. Your school library was one out of 136 school libraries chosen out of more than twelve hundred libraries from across the United States. All of us know that libraries are necessary to help students learn to read and to do well in school. When I was a little girl, I loved books and reading even before I went to school. My mother and I would go to the library and read stories together. I especially liked stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder because we shared the same name. I enjoyed reading about the adventures she had in the Little House on the Prairie. Ever since then, I’ve loved books and reading, and going to the library. And in fact, when I grew up I made my love of reading into my job and became a librarian.

With this grant, your teachers can buy new books for your library and you’ll be able to find favorites of your own. No matter your age, reading gives you enjoyment throughout your whole life. Of course, as with any other skill, like dancing or basketball, the secret to enjoying reading is to practice. How many of you like to play basketball? What would you do if you wanted to play well? You might eat a lot of the right foods to help you grow strong and tall. And you would practice your three-pointers with your friends.

You would work really hard to become a better player. You have to do the same thing with reading. You have to read every day to become a better reader and to do well in school. Like basketball, at first reading isn’t easy – but it becomes easier after much practice. Everyone can learn to read and each of you can practice. And one of the best places to practice reading is in your school or library. At the library you can check out books to take home and read with your mom or dad or your brothers and sisters. Just one discussion about a memorable chapter or an interesting character can lead to a better understanding of people and cultures. The more you read, the more you will learn – and the more opportunity you will have in life. Reading and doing well in school can even help you to become whatever you want to be when you grow up.

My hope is that with this grant, your school can add new books to your library, from history to Harry Potter, which happens to be another one of my favorite books. With more books to choose from, you can practice reading more in school, and you can check out books to take home. And it’s so important that you practice reading at home during the summer. It’s easy to go on vacation and just watch TV or play video games. But never take a vacation from learning. Summer is the perfect time to read books that interest you. And if you read as much as you can in the summer, you’ll be prepared for school in the fall. Thank you for letting me visit your school. Remember to thank your teachers and librarians who help to make your school a great place to learn. And keep reading!

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