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For the past 24 years, the Bush family has recognized the tremendous power of literacy at A Celebration of Reading, a one-of-a-kind event featuring national bestselling authors and notable entertainers who bring their talent to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. A Celebration of Reading is indisputably one of Houston’s top charitable events.

VIP guests begin their special evening with a reception during which they mix and mingle with members of the Bush family and the line-up of bestselling authors while enjoying cocktails and Hors d’oeurves. All guests then proceed to the theater to enjoy the program, a professional production in which prominent authors artfully share their stories and entertainers delight guests with their talent. As hosts for the evening, the Bush family enlightens guests with their humor, while at the same time creating a sense of intimacy and connectedness. Following the program, guests enjoy a seated dinner and more time to converse before going home with a book written by one of the authors. The event is sure to please guests and support the important cause of literacy.

Proceeds from A Celebration of Reading benefit local literacy programs through the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and national efforts through the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Read further to learn about last year’s event and view our incredible list of Author Alumni


2018 A Celebration of Reading

Nearly 1,900 guests attended the 24th annual A Celebration of Reading. This year’s special event celebrated the power of reading and our beloved Barbara Bush’s indelible legacy.  The event garnered more than $2.4 million to advance literacy, a cause Mrs. Bush championed for nearly 30 years. This year’s lineup of bestselling authors included Clive Cussler, Jim Gaffigan, Governor John Kasich, Christina “CK” Kerley and Candice Millard. Since inception of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, A Celebration of Reading has raised more than $2 million every year.

The Honorable James Baker III, former U.S. Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush, opened the event by sharing special remarks about the former First Lady. “She was a true heroine who has helped build a better world – one person at a time…and we love her for that,” said Baker.

Guests were then shown the following video, featuring Curiosity Cruiser mascots Owlbotron and Northtale recruiting local Houston mascots to join the literacy cause.

Following the video, Foundation Chairs Neil and Maria Bush entered the stage, along with Foundation President, Dr. Julie Baker Finck, and Ashley Bush, granddaughter of George H.W. and Barbara Bush. Maria and Neil shared a few words about Mrs. Bush and her dedication to promoting literacy, and expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support, prayers and messages following her passing. “My hope is that Barbara Bush’s life will continue to shine a light on our mission,” said Neil Bush. “That it inspires us and thousands of others to do more to make Houston a model city for literacy.”

The Chairs then thanked sponsors and donors for their contributions and the many volunteers and organizations across the city who have helped to advance the literacy cause through the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

Dr. Julie Baker Finck spoke of the impact the Foundation has made the past five years since its founding by the Bush family, spoke of Mrs. Bush’s impact through the cause of literacy and invited everyone to play a role in advancing her legacy. “The most befitting way to honor our beloved Barbara Bush is to continue advancing her legacy and realize her vision of Literacy for All,” she said.

The impressive line-up of featured authors, each introduced by a Bush family member, then took the stage to share entertaining and unique stories around their personal experiences and award-winning literary works.

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale encouraged guests to help support the Foundation and Mrs. Bush’s legacy, and announced a donation of $150,000 from the McIngvale family.

Following the author presentations, Dr. Russell Levinson, the Reverend at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, shared poignant insights into Mrs. Bush’s last days.

Houston’s Mary Sarah, from The VOICE, performed “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. She then joined Victoria White, Marquist Taylor and the 35-member Houston Gospel Choir, who led the audience in singing “Amazing Grace,” concluding the program.

The unforgettable evening was an emotional and joyous celebration of Mrs. Bush’s life and her passion for literacy.


Author alumni

Stephen Ambrose

Jean Auel

Susan Baker

David Baldacci

Rondé Barber

Tiki Barber

Dave Barry

Ted Bell

Michael Beschloss

Maeve Binchy

Cherie Blair

Eric Blehm

Barbara Taylor Bradford

James Bradley

David Brooks

Bill Browder

Marc Brown

Sandra Brown

Jill Conner Browne

Christopher Buckley

Barbara Bush

George H. W. Bush

George W. Bush

Jeb Bush

Margaret Bush

Donovan Campbell

Stephen Carter

Carol Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark

Bill Clinton

Harlan Coben

Jackie Collins

Robin Cook

Patricia Cornwell

Kelly Corrigan

Michael Crichton

Deborah Crombie

Stanley Crouch

Li Cunxin

Clive Cussler

Dominick Dunne

David Eagleman

Richard Paul Evans

David Feherty

Antwone Fisher

Marlin Fitzwater

Fannie Flagg

Karyn Frist

Jim Gaffigan

Elizabeth George

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Sue Grafton

Amy Grant

John Grisham

David Halberstam

Tami Hoag

Karen Hughes

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Walter Isaacson

A. J. Jacobs

P. D. James

Dan Jenkins

James Earl Jones

Jan Karon

Mary Karr

John Kasich

Christina "CK" Kerley

Baine Kerr, Jr.

Tracy Kidder

Greg Kincaid

Christina Baker Kline

Dorie Lawson

Jim Lehrer

Robert Ludlum

P.M. John Major

James McBride

Frank McCourt

David McCullough

Reba McEntire   

Larry McMurtry

Jon Meacham

Brad Meltzer

Candice Millard

Mary Tyler Moore

Blake Mycoskie

Jim Nantz

Mary Neal

Bob Newhart

Chuck Norris

Susan Orlean

Dianna Ossana

James Patterson

Richard North Patterson

Nathaniel Philbrick

Julia Reed

Al Roker

Arnold Scaasi

Brent Scowcroft

Sidney Sheldon

Anita Shreve

Mark K. Shriver

Hugh Sidey

Daniel Silva

Alan Simpson

Lester Smith

Kathryn Stockett

Jennifer Thompson

Ronald Cotton

Brad Thor

Scott Turow

Ronan Tynan

Andrea White

Lawrence Wright