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#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year’s #GivingTuesday will take place on November 27th and will kick off the giving season by inspiring people to collaborate and give back.

You can change a child’s life with the gift of your time

 Watch the video below to hear from a Read Houston Read volunteer.

Watch the video below to hear from a Read Houston Read volunteer.

This month we are partnering with HISD and Innovations for Learning to recruit volunteers to give just 30 minutes each week to read with a child through the Read Houston Read program. For the past four years, several hundred members of the Houston community have served as reading mentors to first- and second-graders, giving them the one-on-one support they need to become strong and confident readers. Whether online through a platform called Tutormate or in-person using resources developed by the Children’s Museum of Houston, you can change a child’s life with the gift of your time. For more information about the program, including a map of participating schools, visit or email

An evaluation of the program conducted by HISD’s Office of Research & Accountability demonstrates that the program improves reading achievement levels. We are grateful to the corporations and individuals who have embraced the Read Houston Read program and made a meaningful difference in the life of a child. We invite you to serve as a volunteer this year!

Ladies for Literacy Guild meeting recap

 From left to right: Jennifer Hazelton, Donatella Benckenstein, Stephanie Tsuru, Ginger Blanton, Sue Smith, Trish Morille, and Lindsey Herod

From left to right: Jennifer Hazelton, Donatella Benckenstein, Stephanie Tsuru, Ginger Blanton, Sue Smith, Trish Morille, and Lindsey Herod

Members of the Ladies for Literacy Guild gathered last month for their fall meeting. Guild President Stephanie Tsuru announced the upcoming launch of the First Lady’s Book Club in December that will feature New York Times Bestselling Author Brad Meltzer’s latest book The Escape Artist. She encouraged members to join and help set the example for others to help Houston become a city of readers. Betty Hrncir, Grants Committee Chair, announced awards were made to New Hope Housing to create a children’s library in the residential community and to the Harris County Public Library in support of Curiosity Cruiser programs and resources for the second year. Community Book Drive Co-Chair Rosie Damgaard shared that the 2019 drive will be extended to include the entire month of March, beginning with a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and ending with an event on March 28 in partnership with the Houston Rockets Women’s Organization at a home game. So, start collecting your books today!

Be sure to check out our calendar of events for upcoming events hosted by our Ladies for Literacy Guild, including the 3rd annual Power of Literacy luncheon on October 23 chaired by Cathy Cleary and a membership event at River Oaks Bookstore on November 1 co-chaired by Pam Sengelmann and Ginger Blanton.

Jungle Book Gala kick off event

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On September 20th, Jungle Book Gala honorary chairs, Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and his wife Erin, joined co-chairs Amy and Kyle McCully, Morgan Stautzenberger and Cameron Stubbs, and members of the host committee, committee, sponsors and special guests for a fun evening featuring specialty dumplings and drinks courtesy of our hosts at Yauatcha. The soirée was held to kick-off the 4th annual Jungle Book Gala hosted by our Young Professionals Group scheduled for Friday, November 9, 8:00 pm to midnight at The Revaire, one of the city’s newest and most eclectic event spaces.

The Jungle Book Gala has become a favorite on the Houston social calendar! This year’s black-tie gala will be complete with food from A Fare Extraordinaire, cocktails, wine and Pura Vida tequila, an incredible silent auction, and live music by Matchmaker Band from Austin, Texas. You won’t want to miss this wild event!

The Reading Express has hit the streets

The Reading Express, a Making It Better and Harris County Public Library partnership, has hit the Houston streets to provide early literacy programming to disadvantaged children from ages 2 months to four-year-old and their families. The curriculum is designed to develop phonological and print awareness, oral language, fine motor and other early literacy skills through the exploration of books, nursery rhymes, songs, art and play. It will reach parents and children in high-need communities throughout Harris County and provide 45-minute interactive classes delivered weekly by Making It Better staff and volunteers. Classes will take place on the bus and in community-based venues.

Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is proud to provide financial support for The Reading Express so that more parents have the skills and resources to be their child’s first and most important teacher so that children can enter Kindergarten with strong emergent-literacy skills.

Making It Better is a nonprofit organization founded more than 10 years ago by Houston City Council Member Jerry Davis. It is dedicated to transforming communities by empowering children and families through literacy, leadership and life skills and is a proud member of our Literacy Partner Network.

Houston Texans Players Huddle Up to Read with Kids

Children at Codwell Elementary School were all smiles as Houston Texans players Tyler Ervin (#21), Brian Peters (#52) and Brennan Scarlett (#57) visited the school to read to children and assist in selecting six new books to read and keep as part of our My Home Library program. In addition, local children’s book author, Joy Saxton, discussed how she became an author and shared her new book, Joy and the Far Away Land.

“Barbara Bush was a true champion of the literacy cause and impacted countless people during her lifetime by helping them learn how to read,” said Amy Palcic, Houston Texans’ Vice President of Communications. “We are proud to partner with her foundation to continue to get kids excited about reading and teach them that reading is an important, lifelong skill.”

Author Presentation: Joy Saxton at Bear Creek Elementary

Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation united two My Home Library partners: Bear Creek Elementary School and LongTale Publishing for an Author Presentation with Joy Saxton.

Courtesy of Joy Saxton

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation gave me the opportunity to read the book I wrote and illustrated, Joy and the Far Away Land, to over 130 students at Bear Creek Elementary, Katy ISD. The Foundation gives 6 BOOKS TO EVERY CHILD IN THE SCHOOL via its My Home Library program and I am so thrilled to be one of the books on the list for selection!

 I am with Bear Creek Elementary School Librarian, Anna Baker. Ms. Baker said the school was hit hard by Harvey, losing over 100 students to flood displacement and relocation.

I am with Bear Creek Elementary School Librarian, Anna Baker. Ms. Baker said the school was hit hard by Harvey, losing over 100 students to flood displacement and relocation.

My book is a true story of my childhood experience, traveling to the far away land. After I read the story aloud, the students and I talked about the book’s message. We discussed the importance of loving one another, while explaining that kids are just like them around the world. 

During our group discussion, I asked the kids why it’s important to love one another, and a boy in first grade stood up and said: “If all the kids love one another, then there will be no more wars in the world, and there will be peace.” 


A girl in second grade said, "We might be different on the outside, but we are the same on the inside."  I then asked the students: “How are we more similar than different to other kids?” One boy stood up and said, “Sometimes a kid might have different hair than you.” I asked, “What do you do in that instance?” He said: “You go play with someone else.” I said, "Oh... can we talk further about this?" He agreed. He was a very brave boy because we were having a conversation in front of 130 kids and teachers, with a microphone, mind you. I explained first that the puppet on my arm has different hair, and even I have different hair than he does. I said there’s a lot of different hair so “can we play together?” He thought about it, and took the mic to say he would like to play, even with kids whose hair is different; he didn't actually think hair mattered that much. I praised him for standing up to the microphone and for sharing his viewpoint, and did not pressure him to respond any specific way. I told all of the students, “If we don’t play with someone because they look different than we lose the chance to make a new friend.”

The magic of a children’s book is it teaches an important life lesson, like loving one another despite our differences. I feel if I can convey this good message than I got my job done for the day. 

One of my favorite things is letting the kids ask questions which tend to be insightful and curious. I always like to share with students that the first book I wrote was when I was in school in my Language Arts Class and our assignment was to write and illustrate a kids book. My teacher, Mr. Russell inspired me, many years ago, to write my book.

I just want to say the students at Bear Creek were so kind, and thoughtful and well-behaved. It was a wonderful school, and the Librarian Ms. Anna Baker was the best! It is evident how committed she is to reading and encouraging her students. I feel honored to be there that day.