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June 2, 2005

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries Award Presentation

 Austin Community Academy High School

Chicago, Illinois

11:30 A.M. CDT

MRS . BUSH: Thank you very much, Brad, that was terrific. I really appreciate the introduction. I want to thank everybody who has come out today to join us. I want to thank everybody from Austin Community Academy High School that is here. I'm especially happy that your school received one of the grants from the Laura Bush Foundation. I also want to congratulate Chicago High School for Agriculture Science. DuSable High School and Ryerson Elementary School, congratulations to you, as well, for receiving the Laura Bush Foundation grants.

Laura Bush attends the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, June 2, 2005, at Austin Community Academy High School, Chicago, Illinois.  White House photo by Krisanne JohnsonThe Laura Bush Foundation has my name on it, but the hard work is done by the Executive Director, Beth Ann Bryan. Beth Ann, thank you very much for everything you said. (Applause.)

By the Leadership Council, which is led by Bill Marriott, and Ed and Debbie Jannotta who are here with us today or here from Chicago, and they also are very -- have done a lot of work to make sure we have the money so we can give the grants. And then by the grant readers, like Dr. Junko Yokota. Thank you very much, Dr. Yokota, for working so hard to pick these schools that were picked in the Chicago area, as well as the other schools around the country. They are the ones, that committee -- the committee of library experts -- librarians, and children's literature experts, are the ones who have to make the choices among so many worthy applicants.

The need is so great, as Beth Ann mentioned to you. The very first year of grants we just put out through the American Library Association that -- we were going to give these grants to school libraries, specifically to school libraries, and we got more than 6,000 applications. And that was with no advertising or anything about the grants. And I think that number really shows how desperate school libraries are for materials, and how important it is for people in every community to make sure their school libraries are stocked with great books so that children really have the chance to read.

All of the efforts of the Leadership Council and experts show -- allow the Foundation to give these awards, and I'm really grateful to everybody involved. Thank you all very much.

I also appreciate Michael Scott. Thank you for telling your story about how a book changed your life. Thank you for everything you do as President of the Board of Education. It's a very, very difficult job. It's a thankless job in many ways, but you're doing a terrific job, and I appreciate that.

And of course, to Dr. Anthony Scott, the Principal of this school, thank you for welcoming us here and thank you for your good work for your students.

I first fell in love with books when I was a child in Midland, Texas. My mother used to take me to the Midland County Public Library, which was in the basement of the courthouse in the center of the little town I grew up in. And we'd check out books, and then we would spend hours reading with each other. I was an only child, but I soon found that I didn't have to be lonely as long as I had a book in my hand.

Today's children have many more ways to entertain themselves, with television and video games, but reading still provides better stimulation for the brain. Books can be a source of entertainment, they can be a source of knowledge, and they can be a source of inspiration. And they're essential for academic success.

A study from the Department of Education showed that the more books children have in their homes, the more successful they are in school. But of course, we know some children don't have any books in their homes, and that makes it all the more important for school libraries and community libraries to have well-stocked shelves. Young people should have access to the timeless classics, as well as to new books that reflect their own interests, their backgrounds, and their cultures.

With the grant they're receiving today, the administrators at Austin Community Academy High School will have resources to buy new books for their students. And I know the grants will be put to good use, because I just spoke to students from the Mayor's Book Club. It was really fun, too. I had a great time talking to students about their favorite books and about what they want in their school library. And they were sure to let Ms. Hadac know what kind of books they wanted.

I also know that they want a wider selection of books, that that's what the Mayor's Book Club students want. They want to read books about sports and sports heroes. They want to read mysteries and biographies. And their librarian also wanted books for them in other languages so that the IB students would have books in French and Spanish to read.

We must do everything we can possibly do to make sure that children and teenagers read. And everyone in every community has a responsibility to make sure their students get an excellent education. Public schools can benefit from private sector initiatives like this Foundation, efforts that bring together members of the community to help students in their schools.

And while most school funding comes from local and state governments, the federal government also has to fill a need. A new federal program called Striving Readers provides funding to school districts that use research-based methods to teach reading to high school- and middle school-age students to help them improve their reading skills.

I visited several schools that are using these kinds of programs, supported by Striving Readers, and teachers tell me that students are improving their reading ability by two, three and sometimes four grade levels in one year. These students once had little hope of academic success because they'd gotten all the way to junior high or high school without knowing how to read. But now they have really good grades, and they have more opportunities for the future, because they have stronger reading skills.

Great credit goes to the teachers who are dedicated to making sure that all of their students read well, to the librarians who make important contributions by introducing children to the pleasures of reading, and to the techniques of research. And the teachers, librarians and books at Austin Community High School are vital resources for students at every reading level.

Thank you every one of you for treasuring books and for valuing education. And congratulations to all the schools who are receiving grants from the Laura Bush Foundation. Thank you all and congratulations. (Applause.)

END 11:38 A.M. CDT

May 10, 2004

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

AS DELIVERED

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!

June 4, 2002

Washington White House Conference on School Libraries Checks Out Lessons for Success

Washington, DC - First Lady Laura Bush hosted a White House Conference on School Libraries today featuring the latest research and model programs. “School libraries help teachers teach and children learn,” noted Mrs. Bush, a former public school teacher and librarian. “Children and teachers need library resources – especially books - and the expertise of a librarian to succeed. Books, information technology, and school librarians who are part of the schools’ professional team are basic ingredients for student achievement,” Mrs. Bush said.

Mrs. Bush and her co-host Dr. Robert Martin, a career librarian and Director of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, were joined by education, library, government, and philanthropic leaders from across the country. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is a primary source of federal grants for the nation’s libraries and museums.

Dr. Martin said, “Mrs. Bush’s passion for reading, education and teaching is a great gift to our nation and to our nation’s children. We are delighted to have a librarian in the White House. And now we have the research to affirm what she has long known: good school libraries enhance children’s learning. Working together, equipped with the best research and examples of proven school library programs, librarians, teachers and school leaders can make a difference in student achievement.”

Dr. Martin noted, that “ research shows that reading scores for students in schools that focus on improving their library programs are, on average, eight to 21 percent higher than similar schools without such development. This holds true even when other factors like community demographics are taken into account.”

The conference focused on “what works in school libraries” with up-to-the-minute reports on policy, the latest research, successful local programs and innovative approaches to funding.

Dr. Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation and former President of Brown University and the New York Public Library, spoke about the central role of libraries in literacy, reading and education.

Dr. Susan Neuman, the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, is a former Professor and Director of the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement at the University of Michigan and has taught at Temple University, Boston College, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and Yale University. She spoke on the critical importance of children’s access to books and the role of libraries in elementary and secondary education, and the importance of “teacher-librarians” working with both teachers and students.

Dr. Keith Curry Lance, Director of Library Research Service, State Library and Adult Education Office of the Colorado Department of Education, is the author of many landmark library studies. He spoke about his research establishing the link between school libraries and student achievement.

A panel of practitioners demonstrated how to put the theory to work for children and teachers. Dr. Steve Wisely, Professor and Superintendent, Medford School District, Medford, Oregon; Dr. Gary Hartzell, Professor, Educational Administration and Supervision, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Faye Kimsey-Pharr, Elementary School Principal, Lakeside Academy of Math, Science and Technology, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Dr. Kathleen D. Smith, High School Principal, Cherry Creek High School, Cherry Creek, Colorado, spoke about their experiences with students, teachers and school libraries.

Christine DeVita, President, DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, spoke about the role of philanthropy in enhancing school libraries. “Tall Tree, the Reader’s Digest Foundation Library Initiative launched in 1995, is reshaping the educational landscape by showing how schools and libraries together can enrich children’s learning experiences,” said Ms. DeVita.

At the close of the event, Mrs. Bush announced the names of the Leadership Council and Advisory Committee members who will lead the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. Mr. J. W. (Bill) Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, will be Chairman of the Foundation’s Leadership Council. He is being joined by Mr. John H. Bryan, former Chairman of the Board of the Sara Lee Corporation, as Vice-Chairman, and by other outstanding national business leaders. Mrs. Pam Willeford will serve as Executive Director and Chairman of the Foundation’s Advisory Committee.

The Foundation was established in July, 2001, to help bring books to inner-city and rural school libraries. Mrs. Bush said, “the dedication and enthusiasm of the business leaders, philanthropists, teachers, librarians, and scholars who are leading the Foundation will help to put much needed books into the hands of young readers across the country.”

Mrs. Bush noted in closing the conference, “A good library launches young children on a journey of exploration and discovery, teaching them how to ask questions and find answers. And the wonderful thing is that once you learn to use a library, the doors to learning are open to you throughout your life.”

July 30, 2001

Mrs. Bush Announces Creation of Laura Bush Foundation For America's Libraries

Grants will benefit school libraries; help children explore the world through books

Washington, DC - Laura Bush today announced the creation of the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries through the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. The purpose of the Laura Bush Foundation is to enhance the book collections of school libraries across the country. The establishment of the Foundation is timed to coincide with the First Annual National Book Festival that Mrs. Bush is hosting with the Library of Congress on September 8, 2001.

"My lifelong passion for books and reading began when I was a little girl," said Mrs. Bush. "This new Foundation provides yet another opportunity to share with America's children the magical world of books and reading."

As school budgets have become stretched, school districts have had to apply their resources to programs and services other than libraries. It is not uncommon for libraries to receive funds for computers and related technology instead of books. As a result, some libraries lack a good collection of enjoyable and engaging books that encourage children to read, as well as up-to-date subject area books and reference materials. One of the purposes of the Laura Bush Foundation is to help libraries find a balance between technology and contemporary books by providing needed funding for book purchases.

Grants from the Foundation will help school libraries extend their collections so that children across the country can access books about science, history, drama or classic literature, or any other topic.

"Connecting children with books is a critical step toward instilling the love of reading at a very young age," said Mrs. Bush. "I look forward to working with other book lovers to ensure that every child in our great nation has access through books to the building blocks of learning."

For more information on the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, contact Meg Pearson at the Community Foundation at (202) 955-5890.