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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 26, 2008

Interview of the First Lady and Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington by Gretchen Carlson, Fox & Friends

8:51 A.M. EDT

Q Joining us now live, First Lady Laura Bush and Dr. James Billington, the Librarian of Congress. Good morning to both of you.

MRS. BUSH: Good morning.

DR. BILLINGTON: Good morning.

Q All right, so this is the Eighth Annual National Book Festival. It's going to be held on the National Mall. Tell us the about the event, Mrs. Bush.

MRS. BUSH: Well, the event starts at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, rain or shine, so I urge people to come. We're going to have 70 very well-known authors. There's going to be something for everybody. There's some great children's authors, young-adult authors, some very important historians and biographers, as well as everyone's favorite fiction writers and mystery writers.

I really want to encourage people to bring their children. There's some authors that I think boys particularly would love to meet, like Tiki Barber and R.L. Stine, who writes the "Goosebumps" books, and John Scieszka, who wrote that "Stinky Cheese Man" book. So if you're having trouble getting your boys to read, bring them out to the National Book Festival and let them meet some of their favorite writers.

Q Dr. Billington, you might know a thing or two about trying to encourage people to read, a strong advocate of literacy. Why is it important to have events like this for kids?

DR. BILLINGTON: Well, it's very important because it's multi-generational. It's an inter-generational thing. And that's what's been very exciting. We've moved from the First Lady, when she first -- we worked with her to set this first one up, got 30,000 people; now we got 120,000 last year. It's all free. What's -- notice not only just the increase in numbers, but the extraordinary interest in the diversity of people that attend and the different generations.

I have 12 grandchildren and I'm going to bring a majority of them myself to the book festival tomorrow. They love it. Kids love it. But it's also fun for the parents and the grandparents.

Q Of course.

DR. BILLINGTON: So, it's a family thing, and it's some -- groups come from all over the place. So it's a sign that people are still interested in reading, and it's a tribute to Mrs. Bush's leadership and advocacy for this wonderful cause.

Q And is one of the highlights going to be, Mrs. Bush, that you'll actually be reading your well-known book that you wrote with Jenna?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. It's going to be really fun for Jenna and me. This is the first time I've ever been a book festival author, so I'm really excited about it. Jenna and I will be reading from "Read All About It," and it's really fun and a great excuse, also, for me to have Jenna in town, Jenna and Henry for the weekend. So George and I are both looking forward to that.

Q Real quickly, Mrs. Bush, I do have to ask you. It's a stressful time for our country right now with the economy, obviously a very stressful time for your husband after that meeting that took place last night. What's his mood today?

MRS. BUSH: Well, his mood is fine today. He feels encouraged that the Congress is going to come together and pass the package that Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have worked on. It's very important. This is a very serious time in our country's economic life, and it's really important for everyone to put partisanship aside and come together and get this package passed.

And I think he does feel encouraged that that will happen, and that will stabilize our markets and help everyone in the United States.

Q All right. All eyes watching today, as well as this weekend when your annual book festival takes place on the National Mall.

First Lady Laura Bush, Dr. James Billington, we appreciate your time this morning.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot.

DR. BILLINGTON: Thank you.

END 8:55 A.M. EDT

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