The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 3, 2003

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


Thank you, Dr. Billington, for your warm welcome, and many thanks to the Library of Congress for sponsoring the third National Book Festival. I appreciate our distinguished Members of the Cabinet and Members of Congress for being here. And a special thanks to the authors, poets, illustrators, and storytellers for giving us a reason to celebrate. Without you, we wouldn't have tales of mystery, history, and heroism. We wouldn't have characters to intrigue us or poems that inspire. And we wouldn't have good books to devour - as Julia Glass says, " a contestant in a pie-eating contest."

By helping to make the National Book Festival a success, you've also helped to inspire the first book festival in Russia. I returned from Moscow yesterday. There I joined Mrs. Putin for a celebration of children's literature and school libraries. R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps books, joined me. I wish you could have seen him weave a scary story with the children about a boy and a haunted car. The festival was truly a celebration of authors, books, and of freedom - the freedom to write and to read what we want.

Every person deserves to experience the joy of books. A good book is like an unreachable itch - you just can't leave it alone. Stories beckon us to toss aside all cares in the world - work, laundry, even sleep - to read and discover.

We delight in great works of literature and especially in the works of budding new artists. President Bush is a great leader and husband - but I bet you didn't know, he is also quite the poet. Upon returning home last night from my long trip, I found a lovely poem waiting for me. Normally, I wouldn't share something so personal, but since we're celebrating great writers, I can't resist.

Dear Laura,

Roses are red, violets are blue, oh my lump in the bed, how I've missed you.

Roses are redder, bluer am I, seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.

The dogs and the cat they miss you too, Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe.

The distance my dear has been such a barrier, next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

I'm happy to be the inspiration behind this poem. Someone or something always inspires an artist and this is true for tonight's distinguished speakers. Tom Clancy started out as an insurance salesman, but always dreamed of becoming a writer. Inspired by his love of technology and the military, he started writing novels in his spare time. The Bible inspired Stephen Carter to study theology and philosophy, which has shaped many of books. Gayle Ross was inspired by the history of the Cherokee Nation and by her grandmother who was a storyteller. Julie Andrews wrote a book about dump trucks for her grandson, Sam. She also gave him the title credits, since "Dumpy" is Sam's name for dump trucks.

Although his mom wanted him to be a doctor, Bob Schieffer wanted to be like his hero, Walter Cronkite. Ask Bob why he became a writer, and he'll tell you, "Comparative Anatomy." I'm grateful to each of you for lending your presence and prestige to our enterprise. Now let's start celebrating with some of our nation's most talented writers.

Bob Schieffer is undoubtedly one of the most talented and respected journalists. He's come a long way from his first job covering Tricia Nixon's costume ball. Bob is the chief Washington correspondent for CBS and has made countless politicians Face the Nation in his Sunday broadcast. When he first arrived at CBS, Bob said, "I felt like a Little-Leaguer who suddenly found himself playing for the...Yankees." Bob, no matter the team, you're a true all-star. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my fellow Texan, Bob Schieffer.


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