LITERATURE & BOOKS
First Lady Laura Bush and Jenna Bush
Read All About It!
Recently, the First Lady and her daughter, Jenna Bush, made an appearance at the 92nd Street Y to promote their book, Read All About It!, a picture book for children published by HarperCollins. Mrs. Bush and her daughter took turns reading their tale out loud about a boy who thinks books are boring until storybook characters come alive in his classroom. Julia Reed, a contributing editor at Newsweek and Vogue, spoke with the Bushes about the importance of literacy and education and their collaboration on the book.
Stemming from their experiences as teachers and their passion for reading, the First Lady and Jenna Bush are strong advocates for literacy and education. An Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literary Decade, Mrs. Bush hosted the first White House Conference on Global Literacy in 2006 to highlight successful literacy programs and encourage sustained global and country-level efforts to promote literacy. In 2001 she helped the Library of Congress launch the first National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. She also founded the statewide Texas Book Festival in 1995. Mrs. Bush taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Jenna Bush shares her mother’s love of reading and teaching. Jenna taught elementary school in Washington, D.C. after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 with a degree in English. She has also written a book, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, about a 17-year-old single mother in Panama living with HIV.
Mrs. Bush explained that the idea behind Read All About It! was partly inspired by the reaction of her fourth grade class to Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. After reading the book to her students, they became so engaged in the story they claimed a spider in the closet was the famous Charlotte. “That was so much fun; I loved having the chance to teach children about literature,” exclaimed Mrs. Bush. Over the past year, Jenna and her mother developed the idea of capturing children’s imaginations with characters that literally jump out of a page. “The great thing…is that very few people get the opportunity to work creatively with their parents. I was constantly inspired by her ideas,” commented Jenna.
For Mrs. Bush, writing the book with her daughter was an early Mother’s Day gift. “Having the chance to write this book with Jenna was a very special time for me since we’re also planning her wedding...It reminded me of all the books we read together when she and her sister were little girls,” she explained.
The final question that Julia Reed posed to the Bushes came from the audience: what are their favorite books? Mrs. Bush listed Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Jenna Bush named To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The History of Love by Nicole Kraus as some of her favorite books.
Read All About It! is available at major bookstores and the HarperCollins website: www.harpercollins.com.#