Former First Lady to Serve as Honorary Chair for Celebration of Reading

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, established in 1989 by former First Lady Barbara Bush, will host the 17th annual Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading this November at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

Former first lady Laura Bush will serve as honorary chair, and the event chair will be Brill Garrett, wife of Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett and a passionate advocate for making a difference in the lives of children.

“The Celebration of Reading is always powerful, but it takes on special meaning this year with the recent loss of its beloved founder, former First Lady Barbara Bush,” said Brill Garrett. “What a tremendous honor to help continue the work she began, bringing amazing authors to Dallas and inspiring people to embrace reading while supporting local family literacy initiatives.”

Members of the Bush family are expected to attend the Nov. 6 event along with a stellar lineup of The New York Times best-selling authors. The day kicks off with a luncheon at noon for the authors and top sponsors, followed by a VIP authors’ reception from 6-7 p.m. for patron level and higher sponsors at the Meyerson’s Horchow Hall.

Highlighting the day is the always-entertaining program, a ticketed event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Meyerson Concert Hall where authors share their personal stories and read from their most recent works. After the program, the authors will conduct a book signing at 9 p.m. on the lower level.

Doors to the Meyerson Symphony Center will open at 6:30 p.m.

Earlier that day, student winners of the region-wide essay contest along with their teachers and principals will be honored at a breakfast event hosted by the Gene and Jerry Jones Family at AT&T Stadium.

A Princeton University undergraduate and Harvard Law School graduate, Brill Garrett brings tremendous experience and passion to the Celebration of Reading event. Through her leadership with the Jason Garrett Starfish Charities, she has originated a number of education programs for Dallas public school students in grades Pre-K through high school.

Additionally, she has served on several charitable boards, including the Center for Brain Health (part of the University of Texas at Dallas) and SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development as well as Camp John Marc.

An art docent for students touring AT&T Stadium, she also is an active member of the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association and headlines its Reading Blitz program for under-served, at-risk elementary school students.

Laura Bush is an advocate for literacy, education and women’s rights. After leaving the White House, President and Mrs. Bush founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Today Mrs. Bush pursues her work on global healthcare innovations and empowering women in emerging democracies through the George W. Bush Institute. She also serves as the Chair for the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative. As First Lady, Mrs. Bush advocated the importance of literacy and education to advance opportunity for America’s young people and to foster healthy families and communities. (See detailed bio below.)

“We are so honored to have Mrs. Bush and Brill Garrett at the helm this year,” said Anne Davies, senior vice president, and chief development officer for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. “As a former librarian and teacher, Mrs. Bush has had a lifelong love and appreciation for reading. Combining Brill Garrett’s drive and expertise in creating and supporting youth education programs, we anticipate an extraordinary day of Celebration of Reading events on November 6.”

The work of the Barbara Bush Foundation is more critical than ever, event planners said. By 2030, an estimated 1 million Dallas County residents will not be literate in English – limiting opportunities and economic prosperity for families and the entire community. Further illustrating the issue is that approximately 70 percent of low-income fourth graders in North Texas today cannot read at grade level.

Funds raised from this year’s event will support more than 140 family literacy programs and groundbreaking literacy initiatives throughout the country that provide parents and children – including nearly 5,000 North Texas families – with access to educational opportunities so they can better their own lives and pass these important skills down to the next generation.

To learn more about the Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading, go to barbarabush.org/get-involved/events/.

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