10 Ways to Foster Family Literacy


For nearly 30 years, our beloved Barbara Bush was a champion for family literacy across our nation because she believed reading learning to read begins in the home and that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. November is National Family Literacy Awareness Month, so we wish to spotlight the importance of family literacy and provide you with ways to foster a literacy-rich environment in your own home.

Family Literacy is a type of literacy education that emphasizes bringing reading and writing into the home and making it a family activity. Research presented by the National Center for Education Statistics has proven that family engagement is one of the most important factors of literacy development, and that children enter kindergarten at a higher reading level when they have a positive learning environment at home. When literary success is highly encouraged and supported by the family, children are more likely to want to read, enjoy reading, and excel academically in all subjects.

The best things you can do for your children for academic success are also the simplest and most natural. Below are ways to foster family literacy in your home.

1.    Let your child see you reading.

2.    Read more than books together -- read road signs, food labels, etc.

3.    Let your child pick out the books you read together.

4.    Visit the library together.

5.    Ask your child questions about the books or pictures.

6.    Find ways to relate the stories to your child’s life.

7.    Create and tell your own stories.

8.    Sing songs and rhymes together with your child.

9.    Write notes to each other and to others.

10.  Create a special place for books and reading time.

“You know, sit with your arm around a little kid. It not only teaches them to read, but it keeps the family strong.” Barbara Bush

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Ponies Up for Literacy

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ doesn’t clown around when it comes to giving back to the community. In fact, since the Show began in 1932, more than $475 million has been awarded in college scholarships, youth exhibitor awards, graduate assistantships and educational program grants. They also round up a stampede of more than 34,000 cowboys and cowgirls who volunteer their time and talent year-round in making the Rodeo one of the largest events in the nation. They are true points of light in the community, valuing volunteerism and service to others and making investments in the future prosperity of youth and our community.


Our hats are off to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for awarding the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation a $100,000 grant to enable us to expand volunteer-based reading programs in HISD schools and help us corral more Houstonians to serve as reading mentors through our volunteer platform, called Connect4Literacy.org. This generous gift is on the spurs of a three-year, $300,000 grant to expand volunteer engagement in Read Houston Read, My Home Library, and our two auxiliary groups – Ladies for Literacy Guild and Young Professionals Group—as well as underwrite access to and support for Connect4Literacy.org for literacy partners across our city. Because of their support, we are creating a literacy movement across our city, and thousands are stepping forward to give of their time and talent.

Next time you don your hat and boots and head off to watch the Rodeo, enjoy the exhibits or sink your teeth into that deep-fried Oreo™ at the carnival, you can feel guilt-free knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of Texans.

Hess distributes My Home Library to Gallegos Elementary students

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Thanks to HESS Corporation and its employees, nearly 2,000 children on Houston’s East End received brand new books of their choice. Just last weekend, employees volunteered to assemble the home libraries according to wish lists created by the children, before distributing the bags of books to each child at school. In return, children gave them hugs and smiles and quickly began reading. Clearly, a priceless return on their investment.

“My Home Library means a lot to our kids,” said Dr. Alejando Gonzalez, Principal of Gallegos Elementary to the HESS volunteers. “They don’t get to take a lot of things home or really have a lot of things to read. I want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for volunteering to make this happen. This means more than you know. “

One volunteer from Hess, Kyle Bondy, shared his experience at the book distribution:

“Today’s book distribution was an opportunity to see the excitement of less privileged kids getting books to take home as their own. The students were so excited by the fact that they’re not having to check them out from the library and then return them, that these books are now theirs. It was real excitement for them to select and receive six brand new books. I really liked how engaged the students were when we were reading too. I definitely want to volunteer again. In fact, all the volunteers were just talking about how our faces were hurting because we’re smiling so much and because it felt so good to be a part of such an awesome, impactful event.”


Promoting corporate and nonprofit connections to address pressing societal issues


On Halloween, members of our team dressed in costumes of books characters, such as Ninja on the Farm, Coco and If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and hosted the fourth quarterly Literacy Partner Network meeting at the Children’s Museum of Houston. The meeting focused on ‘Corporate Connections’ aimed at assisting literacy partners in strengthening existing or cultivating new partnerships with businesses to advance their goals.

Deloitte kicked of the program by presenting data from a recent, annual survey they conducted of their corporate clients across the country on citizenship and social impact in the social enterprise. Findings from the Deloitte study showed to following:

· 88% of millennials believe that employers should play a vital role in alleviating societal issues

· 67% of employees prefer to work for socially responsible companies

· 55% of consumers will pay extra for products sold by companies committee to positive social impact

· Purpose-focused companies out-performed their S&P 500 peers by a factor of eight

These findings support the value of corporate and nonprofit partnerships to address pressing issues in our community, including low literacy rates, and demonstrate that corporations are becoming more socially conscious and investing in communities – through investments of time, talent and treasures—where their clients and employees live and work.

Leaders from Cheniere Energy, Deloitte, Marathon Oil, Phillips 66 and Reliant then engaged in a panel discussion to share their corporate citizenship priorities and how they partner with and support nonprofits through charitable giving, volunteerism and pro-bono programs. Strategies ranged from matching gift and nonprofit grant-making programs to dedicated volunteer hours for every employee and flexibility of company managers to engage in team-based volunteerism. Each panelist emphasized the desire for fostering long-term partnerships with nonprofits, making both financial and volunteer investments, and supporting causes whose goals are aligned with corporate citizenship strategies.

It was a real treat spending part of Halloween with such an amazing group of leaders who care about our community and give so freely of their resources to make a meaningful impact.

More Families Receive Specialized Supports to More kids to read and rise

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Research suggests that families are the most important influence on a child’s language and literacy development. That is why we are proud to continue to increase access to high-quality family literacy programs across our city, the latest being a $50,000 investment in the expansion of the Read and Rise™ program. Read and Rise™ is an evidenced-based program created by Scholastic® that fosters understanding about the family’s role in supporting language and literacy development by encouraging intentional use of literacy development practices in the home.

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Through a partnership with the Houston Area Urban League and HISD, more than 1,000 families will participate in a series of hands-on workshops to learn strategies for developing their child’s literacy skills and creating a text-rich home environment. During the workshops, families learn about the importance of reading together and receive the tools and resources to use at home with their children. “Thanks to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, we will use Read and Rise to help families get their children ready to be College Bound, Corporate Found, and Community Sound,” said John Robinson, Houston Area Urban League Director of Education.

For the past 50 years, the Houston Area Urban League has provided education programs to empower individuals and families to thrive. “This grant fits into HAUL’s mission towards enabling people to secure economic self-reliance and educational parity by building their capacity in literacy and promoting access to education and training,” said Judson Robinson II, Houston Area Urban League Chief Executive Officer.

My Home Library hosts the biggest Big Awesome Book Sort yet!

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We are grateful for the nearly 200 volunteers who participated in My Home Library’s Big Awesome Book Sort on October 26 and 27. Volunteer groups from Air Liquide, ADP, Walmart, HESS, JLL, Perry Homes, Emmanuel Church of God and Christ, Girl Scout of the USA Troop, Target, Leo Club of Katy contributed to the nearly 500 hours of service to fulfill home libraries for more than 4,500 students (i.e. 30,000 brand new books) as part of our My Home Library program. We especially could not have done it without the tremendous support of Region 4 Education Service Center, led by Dr. Pam Wells, who graciously hosted the 2-day event and lent the time and talent of staff. Thank you all!

Be a part of our next Big Awesome Book Sort by signing up and serving as a volunteer. Don’t have time? Consider sponsoring a child’s home library for the holidays with your $30 donation.

Houston Children's Charity jump-starts the Guild's efforts to build another Curiosity Cruiser mobile library


At this year’s Power of Literacy Luncheon, the Ladies for Literacy Guild President, Stephanie Tsuru announced a special gift in the amount of $75,000 from Houston Children’s Charity, led by CEO Laura Ward, to jump-start the Guild’s efforts to build another Curiosity Cruiser mobile library. The first Curiosity Cruiser was announced at the 2016 luncheon and revealed at the 2017 event. Since the Cruiser hit the streets in January with the Harris County Public Library, it has made nearly 150 total visits serving more than 7,000 underserved children, distributing more than 14,000 books in the community.

Diane Caplan, Laura Ward, Ursaline Hamilton; Photo by Daneil Ortiz

Diane Caplan, Laura Ward, Ursaline Hamilton; Photo by Daneil Ortiz

“The Board of Directors of Houston Children’s Charity is proud to partner with an organization whose mission for children is aligned with our own,” said Laura Ward. “The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Ladies for Literacy Guild’s efforts to ensure that every child reads at a competent level is compelling. At Houston Children’s Charity, we believe that need never takes a vacation, and by empowering children with the tools they need to think, create and explore will not only afford them a brighter future, but also create a positive ripple effect across our entire community.”

Update on 2018 Annual Community Book Drive


Under the leadership of Ladies for Literacy Guild members Lisa Jakel and Rosie Damgaard, an astounding 50,000 books were collected through the Annual Community Book drive, many of which stocked the Curiosity Cruiser and benefited more than 20 literacy organizations across our city! Our 2019 Annual Community Book Drive will take place during the month of March and will end with an event on March 28th in partnership with the Houston Rockets Women’s Organization.

Laura Bush highlights Power of Literacy Luncheon

This year’s Power of Literacy Luncheon program featured former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush in a “fireside chat” moderated by her nephew and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, Pierce Bush. Their conversation spanned a variety of topics, including the recent, private wedding of daughter Barbara Pierce Bush to Craig Coyne at the Bush family’s Kennebunkport residence; life serving as a First Lady, a school teacher and librarian and as an author; and her relationship with her mother-in-law, Mrs. Barbara Bush. Mrs. Laura Bush kept the crowd engaged with her humor, warmth, and commitment to literacy.

One of the most beloved and admired American First Ladies, for decades Laura Bush has championed key issues in the fields of education, health care, and human rights. She has traveled to more than 75 countries, including two historic solo trips to Afghanistan, and has launched groundbreaking education and healthcare programs in the U.S. and abroad. The author of the bestselling memoir, Spoken from the Heart, and co-author of children’s book, Our Great Big Backyard, Mrs. Bush also founded both the Texas Book Festival and the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. Today, as the Chair of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, Mrs. Bush continues her work on global healthcare innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform, and supporting men and women who have served in America’s military.

Born in Midland, Texas to Jenna and Harold Welch, Mrs. Bush holds a degree in education from SMU and a master’s degree in library science from University of Texas. She taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, and worked as a public school librarian. In 1977, she married George W. Bush. President and Mrs. Bush are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, sons-in-law Henry Hagar and Craig Coyne, and proud grandparents to Margaret Laura “Mila” and Poppy Louise Hager.

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