25th Annual A Celebration of Reading


More than 1,600 guests gathered at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts for the 25th annual A Celebration of Reading. This year’s event raised more than $2.2 million to advance literacy, a cause former First Lady Barbara Bush championed for 30 years. This year’s outstanding lineup of bestselling authors included Dr. David Eagleman, Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Susan Page, James Patterson and Gary Sinise. Proceeds support the work of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.  


Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Chairs Maria and Neil Bush opened the evening by welcoming guests to the 25th annual event, a silver anniversary for the legacy of the “Silver Fox.” The couple recognized the Former First Lady who personally designed this event to raise awareness and funds to advance her cause of literacy. Maria and Neil then acknowledged the passing of Lester Smith and Bob McNair, both long-term supporters for literacy who generously supported the Foundation and set an example for each of us on the importance of philanthropy.

“Mom would be so proud and grateful to see so many people here tonight continuing to support her cause of literacy.”
— Neil Bush

Maria and Neil also took a moment to recognize Phillips 66 for serving as the Title Sponsor for the fifth year in a row, the Quanex Foundation and The Honorable and Mrs. Hushang Ansary for serving as the Presenting Sponsors, and Bill Stubbs & Associates for underwriting the cost of creating Barbara and George H. W. Bush’s living room on stage. The Bush’s actual furniture and accessories were set with the backdrop of their living room wall. “Just imagine Dad sitting in that chair holding a martini and Mom sitting beside him needlepointing,” said Neil through tears. “Mom would be so proud and grateful to see so many people here tonight continuing to support her cause of literacy.”


Motown Gospel artist Gene Moore and Houston’s own Ashley T. Davis joined forces and performed a duet version of “Till I See You Again” by Carrie Underwood. To conclude the event, the Singing Cadets of Texas A&M, led by David Kipp, joined the artists on stage for a performance of “God Bless The USA.”


An unforgettable evening, guests left the A Celebration of Reading event, with a gift bag featuring an illustration of George and Barbara Bush in front of the White House that says, “Celebrate reading.” The image came from a children’s book by Chris Helene Bridge titled “Ganny Says.” Each bag contained a copy of Bridge’s book and a book from the featured authors in the program line-up.