On April 20 nearly 1,800 donors, guests, family and friends attended the 23rd annual A Celebration of Reading hosted by Barbara, Neil and Maria Bush at The Hobby Center for Performing Arts. This year’s outstanding lineup of New York Times Bestselling authors included David Brooks, Sue Grafton, Bill Browder, and special surprise guest President George W. Bush. Thanks to the generosity of Title Sponsor Phillips 66, Presenting Sponsor Quanex Foundation and many other generous donors, the event garnered more than $2.2 million in support of the literacy cause through the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. We are deeply grateful for everyone’s support and encourage you to check out photos from the event.
The event opened with a video welcome from Mrs. Bush in which she thanked donors for their support. The video also included a humorous skit entailing President Bush flipping a coin to decide whether Neil or Maria, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Chairs, would speak first in the program. Following the video, Maria introduced Mrs. Bush who gracefully entered the theater to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Guests also watched uplifting video that described Mrs. Bush’s legacy impact and the butterfly effect that has taken hold in the Houston community around the literacy cause. The video highlighted the work of the Foundation’s Young Professionals Group and Ladies for Literacy Guild, as well as other organizations and individuals who have embraced literacy to create their own legacy.
The impressive line-up of featured authors took the stage to share entertaining and unique stories around their literacy work, personal experiences and their award-winning books. The program concluded with an entertaining performance of “Brand New Day” from “The Wiz”, a Westfield Senior High School, 2017 Theatre Under the Stars Tommy Tune Award Nominated High School.
After the event, the guests who stayed for dinner enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Jackson & Company as they socialized and shared stories from the evening. Each guest left the A Celebration of Reading event, with a gift bag featuring Barbara Bush and a quote from her, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless.” The gift bags also included books from the featured authors.
This year’s event truly touched the heart of each audience member. Through tales told from each author illustrating the importance of literacy down to the moving video that gave a small glimpse of what the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation does for the community. Each guest left the theater eagerly awaiting next years A Celebration of Reading.