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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
March 20, 2001

Mrs. Bush's Remarks for Everybody Wins!

Thank you very much, Dr. Billington.

First I want to thank Lisa Vise.

Lisa, you are a remarkable girl. You remind us that one person's work can make a difference in a lot of other people's lives.

Senator Jeffords, Senator Kennedy, Mr. Chabraja, Mr. Cole, Mr. Woodward, distinguished guests, I'm pleased to be with you tonight.

Everybody Wins is the largest children's literacy and mentoring organization in the District because you understand the value of spending quality time reading to children.

I am fortunate because someone spent time reading to me as a child - my mother. Thanks to her I developed a lifelong passion for reading, and I grew up to become a teacher. As much as I loved being read to as a child, I love reading to children even more.

The Everybody Wins volunteers will agree: reading together has tremendous results. Children who are read to by an adult learn two things: First, that reading is worthwhile, and second, that they are worthwhile.

Reading is the foundation of all learning. Children must have good reading skills to succeed in every subject in school. Those who do not read well by the end of the third grade often have a difficult time catching up. Sadly, thousands of children can't read well in America.

According to a 1998 study, 68 percent of fourth-graders in our nation's lowest-income schools were unable to read at even a very basic level.

We may grow numb to statistics, but we cannot grow numb to our children. That so many children can't read is a clear indication of a fundamental failure of adult responsibility for children's lives and futures.

I know we can turn those numbers around. With caring Americans like you, we will turn those numbers around.

George's defining commitment to children is a quality education. His budget includes $5 billion over the next five years for reading initiatives. Through his Reading First program, he wants to give states and schools the funding and tools to implement sound reading programs in Kindergarten through second grade.

While government does its part, it's up to us as parents and citizens to help children read and succeed in life. Children need more than a program; they need a voice. They need strong role models to put loving arms around them and read to them. You recognize that need. I'm proud you're lending your voice and a hand to Everybody Wins.

Please continue supporting this worthy endeavor. Because of you, Everybody does win.

Thanks to the Senators for demonstrating your commitment to children and sharing your common love of reading. Reading is common ground for all of us. Thank you all so much.

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