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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 20, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries Grant Awards
As Delivered
Vernon City Elementary School
Vernon, California

Thank you, Rebecca for the great introduction. Thank you, Superintendent Romer, Principal Almada–Higgins, and all of you for welcoming me to your school. The performance was excellent. I think you deserve another round of applause! This is a very exciting day for me, because I get to see all of you, and because I get to share the news that your school is the first in the country to receive money from the Laura Bush Foundation to buy new books. Your school library was chosen out of more than six thousand libraries! Many people worked hard to raise the money to make today possible. We all know that libraries are necessary to help students learn to read and do well in school.

I worked as a teacher and librarian and I learned how important reading is in school and in life. But I didn’t just learn this in the classroom – I learned it at home from my mother. When I was a little girl, my mother would read stories to me. I have loved books and going to the library ever since. In the summer, I liked to spend afternoons reading in the library. I enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie books and Little Women, and many others. I know that with this money, you’ll be able to read lots of new books and find favorites of your own.

Reading gives you enjoyment throughout your life. Of course, as with any other skill, such as dancing, the secret to enjoying reading is to practice. A great way to practice is to spend time exploring in the library. Another way to enjoy books is by sharing your favorites with your friends and family. Just one discussion about a memorable chapter or an interesting character can lead to a better understanding of people and cultures.

I brought Tomás and the Library Lady with me today to add to your library collection. Tomás is a little boy who travels from Texas to Iowa with his family because his mother and father work in the corn fields. They spend long days in the fields picking corn and at night Tomás’s Grandfather, Papa Grande, tells the family stories. Tomás likes to listen to his grandfather and soon he knows all of his stories. Papa Grande tells him that the place to find new stories is the library.

So Tomás goes to the library, but he is a little afraid. The building is big and it has more books than he has ever seen, but the librarian welcomes Tomás and shows him all of the books. He begins reading about dinosaurs and tigers, and he reads and reads until the library closes. But before he leaves, the librarian lets him check out books with her library card. Tomás takes the books home and reads new stories to his family.

The librarian teaches him about new books; and he teaches the librarian Spanish. She learns that libro means book. The summer comes to an end and Tomás and his family must go back to Texas. The librarian gives Tomás a brand new book to take to Texas and Tomás leaves the library with a new love for books and reading.

This story is the true story of author Tomás Rivera, who became the first Hispanic president of the University of California. His life teaches us an important lesson – the more you read, the more you will learn – and the more opportunity you will have in life. Reading and doing well in school can help you to become president of a university or even president of the United States. My hope is that with this money, your school can add new books to your library, from history to Harry Potter.

And with more books to choose from, you can practice reading more in school, and then check out books to take home and read with your parents and your brothers and sisters. You can become the storyteller of your family, just like Tomás. Dr. Seuss was a very funny poet who wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” You can find Dr. Seuss books in your library.

Like Tomás, the more time you spend in the library reading, the more you’ll learn. I hope you enjoy reading all of the new books in the library and sharing stories with your family. And I hope Tomás and the Library Lady becomes one of your favorite books. Thank you for letting me visit your school. Remember to thank your teachers and librarian at Vernon City Elementary who help to make your school a great place to learn. And keep up the good work – especially reading!


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