Championing the literacy cause? She wrote the book on it

Annual Houston event honors the life and legacy of former First Lady Barbara Bush

She was hailed as a “tough but loving enforcer” and “the secret sauce of (an) extraordinary family.”

And to millions who take joy in reading, former First Lady Barbara Bush was known as the First Lady of Literacy.

Just days after her passing, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation held its 24th annual A Celebration of Reading event on April 19—with nearly 1,900 guests celebrating Mrs. Bush’s incredible life and legacy, while raising more than $2.4 million to advance literacy in the process.

“She was a true heroine who has helped build a better world, one person at a time . . . and we love her for that,” remarked James Baker III, the former U.S. Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.

Mrs. Bush, only the second woman in U.S. history to have had a husband and a son elected president, began championing the literacy cause while in the White House.

She was instrumental in the implementation of the National Literacy Act of 1991, which committed the country to enhancing literacy and basic skills for adults, and continued to advocate for universal literacy for more than 25 years.


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In 1989, she established the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which has awarded more than $50 million to create or expand family literacy programs across the country. And in 2013, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation was formed to combat the literary crisis in Mrs. Bush’s own hometown.

“My hope is that Barbara Bush’s life will continue to shine a light on our mission,” said her son and the Houston foundation’s co-chair Neil Bush at the April 19 event. “That it inspires us and thousands of others to do more to make Houston a model city for literacy.”

The annual A Celebration of Reading includes bestselling authors reading excerpts from their books. Over the event’s 24-year history, authors have included Dave Barry, Sue Grafton, Michael Crichton and Robert Ludlum, to name just a few, with the 2018 lineup featuring Clive Cussler, Jim Gaffigan, Gov. John Kasich, Candice Millard and Christina (CK) Kerley.

Enbridge’s support of Mrs. Bush, her foundation and her championship of literacy dates back 24 years to the first A Celebration of Reading event held in Houston, and members of the Enbridge executive team attended the 24th annual event this month to celebrate her life and legacy.

“Enbridge has been an invaluable partner from the start, always graciously accommodating our requests and lending steadfast support,” says event lynchpin Carrie Eickenroht.