23rd Annual Celebration of Reading Supports Foundation

By Jennifer Roosth
Photography by Michelle Watson and
David Shutts

THE SCENE:  Former First Lady Barbara Bush and Maria and Neil Bush recently hosted the 23rd annual A Celebration of Reading at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The event, which was attended by nearly 1,800 guests, raised more than $2.2 million to benefit the local Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation as well as the national Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. This year’s outstanding lineup of New York Times bestselling authors included former President George W. Bush, David Brooks, Sue Grafton and Bill Browder.


THE VIBE:  The event opened with a video welcome from former First Lady Barbara Bush in which she thanked donors for their support. It also included a humorous skit entailing President Bush flipping a coin to decide whether Neil or Maria would speak first in the program. Mrs. Bush quipped, “You have no idea how many other decisions have been made this way since the Super Bowl.” Following the video, Maria introduced Barbara Bush, who has championed literacy for nearly 30 years, as she entered the theater to a standing ovation from the crowd.


THE CAUSE: Event chairs Maria and Neil Bush thanked the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation President, Dr. Julie Baker Finck, for the work that she and her team perform daily to impact lives through the power of literacy. The pair have spotlighted the many ways the Foundation has been working in the community to build capacity and mobilize more people to action. Guests were then presented with an uplifting video that described Mrs. Bush’s legacy impact and the butterfly effect that has taken hold in the Houston community around the literacy. Proceeds from the event support the work of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.