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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 30, 2001

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at National Book Festival Press Conference
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Dr. Billington and the Library of Congress, for hosting this event today, and also for your generous partnership in the National Book Festival.

I want to thank Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks for being here today representing the NBA's Read to Achieve program. NBA fans love Ray Allen, and I know they will love to see you back here, in September, for the Festival.

I'm proud and excited to be here today for this announcement and The Library of Congress is the perfect setting for today's news. The Library of Congress is home to some of our nation's most precious treasures, which every American can see and enjoy. Indeed, the Library itself is an American treasure.

The late Eudora Welty, whose recent death all lovers of literature mourn, said this about her first library experience in her autobiography, One Writer's Beginning:

She said, "My mother wished me to have my own library card to check out books for myself. She took me in to introduce me to the librarian and said, 'Eudora is nine years old and has my permission to read any book she wants from the shelves.'"

The young Miss Welty devoured books. She wrote, "Two by two, I read library books as fast as I could go, rushing them home in the basket of my bicycle.

From the minute I reached our house, I started to read. I knew this was bliss."

"I wanted to read immediately. The only fear was that of books coming to an end."

Like Eudora Welty, I love to read and I believe everyone should have a chance to experience the sense of adventure and satisfaction that comes from reading a good book -- and, I might add, good newspaper articles.

The National Book Festival is inspired by the Texas Book Festival, a popular statewide event in Austin, Texas, which is now in its sixth year and has drawn more than 25,000 people.

We learned something important at that Book Festival, and that is: People really do love to buy, hold and read books.

Based on our success in Texas, I knew we could create something equally, if not more fun, here in our nation's capital.

The National Book Festival will take place at a time when many American children are going back to school.

Appropriately, on the morning of Friday, September 7, we'll begin with the National Book Festival's "Back to School Children's Reading Hour" right here in this great hall. Dr. Billington and I - and a few other special guests - will read to a group of children.

Then, on Saturday, September 8, the full festival will unfold in and around the Library of Congress and the grounds of our Nation's Capitol.all open to the public.

Our lineup of nearly 50 outstanding authors includes:

David McCullough whose latest work is John Adams;

Nathaniel Philbrick, who won the National Book Award for his Nonfiction work, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.

Sue Grafton, the great mystery writer who has reached another "letter" in her alphabetical mystery series with P is for Peril.

Thomas Mallon who wrote Henry and Clara and Two Moons;

Author David Levering Lewis, who won the Pulitzer Prize for W.E.B. DuBois, Biography of a Race 1868-1919.

beloved children's book author and illustrator Marc Brown who writes the "Arthur" series;

Patricia Maclachlan, who brought us Sarah Plain and Tall.

And a host of other authors, celebrities and special guests.

We're going to have a lot of fun.

My hope is that this Festival will encourage a whole nation to read together on September 8.

So, join us here in our Nation's Capital for an unforgettable experience, cover to cover. Thank you.

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