SMU libraries to honor Laura Bush’s contributions to literacy

Former First Lady Laura W. Bush will receive SMU’s Literati Award on April 2 for her contributions to the advancement of literacy.

DALLAS (SMU) – Former First Lady Laura W. Bush will receive SMU’s Literati Award for her contributions to the advancement of literacy. Mrs. Bush, a 1968 SMU graduate and current member of the SMU Board of Trustees, has championed the importance of literacy and education throughout her life, particularly during her years as a teacher, librarian and as first lady of Texas and of the United States.

Laura BushThe award will be presented April 2, 2011, at SMU’s Collins Executive Education Center by the Friends of the SMU Libraries. Individual tickets are $250 and must be purchased by noon on March 29. Call 214-768-3225 to purchase tickets. Each guest will receive a signed copy of Mrs. Bush’s memoir, Spoken From the Heart.

Mrs. Bush will receive the award at the Friends of the SMU Libraries annual fundraising dinner, Tables of Content. Award-winning journalist Rena Pederson will lead a conversation with Mrs. Bush at the event, which also will feature book signings with ten promising young authors. Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic’s Daughter and The Wolves of Andover; Jennifer Pickens, author of Christmas at the White House, and 10-year-old Alec Greven, author of How to Talk to Girls and School Rules are among the featured authors.

From advocating for the rights of Afghan women to creating the National Book Festival, Mrs. Bush presents a consistent message – the ability to read is life changing.

Soon after arriving in Washington, D.C., as First Lady, Mrs. Bush launched an early childhood development initiative – Ready to Read, Ready to Learn – which helps parents and caregivers prepare infants and young children for success in reading and school. In 2002 she created the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, which has provided more than $7.3 million to school libraries in all 50 states.

Mrs. Bush has served as Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade since 2003. In 2006 Mrs. Bush hosted the first White House Conference on Global Literacy. Last September she addressed the International Literacy Day Symposium at the United Nations in New York. “Education is our most urgent priority. And it should have the highest call on our time and our priorities,” she said.

Expanding access to education and literacy is a central component of Mrs. Bush’s work as chair of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. The initiative is designed to enhance women’s access to education, literacy, health and economic opportunities.

Mrs. Bush also has supported writers and readers through the 1995 creation of the Texas Book Festival. She joined with the Library of Congress in 2001 to create the National Book Festival. The festivals feature readings by award-winning authors and are attended by thousands of readers. Last year she appeared at both festivals as a guest author reading from her memoir, Spoken from the Heart.

She also is co-author with her daughter Jenna of a children’s book, Read All About It!

Tables of Content supports the Friends of the SMU Libraries, an organization dedicated to promoting and enriching the resources, services and operations of the SMU libraries. The Friends also provide opportunities for book lovers to become acquainted with each other and with the many resources of the SMU libraries through a series of programs each year. These events feature noted authors, historians, artists, publishers and curators of notable collections.

SMU’s nine libraries house the largest private collection of research materials in the Southwest with more than three million volumes.

A private university located in the heart of Dallas, SMU is building on the vision of its founders, who imagined a distinguished center for learning emerging from the spirit of the city. Today, 11,000 students benefit from the national opportunities and international reach afforded by the quality of SMU’s seven degree-granting schools.

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