Former First Lady Laura Bush announced this morning that her foundation, which has provided more than $14 million in grants intended to fill school libraries with more and better books, is dispersing more than a million dollars to some 241 schools this year. Bush made the announcement at Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School in front of 30 third-graders and educators, among them Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and his Richardson counterpart, Kay Waggoner .
Local schools receiving grants this year include Lowe, Audelia Creek Elementary School and Molina High School. And while the Jack Lowe children sat quietly on a carpet in front of the podium in their school library, Bush explained to them why reading is important: "If mothers and dads and children read together, everybody learns and everybody likes it," she said. "I love my memories of putting my arms around my girls, Barbara and Jenna, and reading to them."
Her message is especially salient at Jack Lowe, where, she said, students spoke dozens of different languages when the school opened five years ago. "So you can imagine the challenges that Ms. [Gail] Shipley [the school's librarian] and all the teachers faced here," she said.
The school's principal, Yesenia Cardoza, presented Bush with a book made by the children. Opening it to a portrait of her husband, the crowd laughed as the former First Lady looked up and announced, "Here's my husband, George W. Bush."
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"I know what President Bush always asks kids, 'Do you read more than you watch TV?'" she told the children, who listened quietly. "If you do, you'll become a very excellent reader."