March is National Read Aloud Month, and Barbara Bush and her son Neil were at Walnut Bend Elementary School on March 2, 2016, to bring attention to the annual observance. The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation has joined forces with HISD and 14 other Houston literacy organizations to increase awareness of the importance of reading to children so that they can learn, grow, and succeed.
“It’s so great to see people coming together around literacy,” said Neil Bush. “We shamelessly use my mother to draw attention to the importance of literacy.”
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While Barbara read with a first-grade class, Neil headlined a press conference in the school’s library alongside HISD Board of Education member Greg Meyers, City of Houston Director of Education and former HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche, Legacy Community Health CEO Katy Caldwell, Phillips 66 Senior Vice President Debbie Adams, and HISD Chief Academic Officer Andrew Houlihan.
Dr. Houlihan issued a call to action, saying HISD needs more volunteers to read to first-graders through the district’s Read Houston Read program. “All it takes is 30 minutes once a week to change a child’s life,” he said.
Walnut Bend Principal Michelle Dahlquist expressed her agreement by quoting Dr. Seuss, who would have been 112 years old today: “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
Trustee Meyers emphasized the importance of partnerships in the fight against illiteracy, and added that much work remains to be done. “We’ve come a long way,” he said, “and events like this highlight the extreme need. HISD can’t do it alone.”
Neil Bush ended the program with a surprise announcement by way of a short video: Houston Rockets Center Dwight Howard appeared with Barbara Bush and announced that he has joined her all-star team of literacy proponents, which includes Houston Texan J.J. Watt and former Houston Oiler quarterback Dan Pastorini.
To view the complete calendar of local Read Aloud events taking place throughout March, please visit the Bush Houston Literacy Foundation website.