For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 23, 2005
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Fifth National Book Festival Gala
The Library of Congress
Photo Essay: Mrs. Bush Attends 2005 National Book Festival
7:05 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Dr. Billington. Thank you, and welcome all to the fifth National Book Festival. Thanks to the Members of the Cabinet who are here and the Members of Congress who are here tonight. Special thanks to the authors, the illustrators, the poets and the other artists who are with us. And I'm especially grateful to Dr. Billington and the staff of the Library of Congress for organizing this festival once again.
The National Book Festival celebrates the joy of America's literary culture. Books tell us the story of who we are as a nation. Over the last few weeks, in the wake of the storms, we've heard stories of hardship and great hope. And no doubt many books were destroyed by the rain and floodwaters -- family Bibles, scrapbooks, children's books that were cherished by parents and children alike.
This year, the National Book Festival will collect donations for First Book to help schools and libraries replenish their shelves. And of course, we'd love to see school libraries come back even bigger and better than before.
The men and women that we'll hear from tonight publish works that tell stories of courage and hope and love. The very best make us laugh out loud, or get teary with emotion. They introduce us to new characters, or they present well-known heroes in a compelling new way.
Linda Sue Park tells the stories of young people who embark on physical or spiritual journeys of discovery. Her characters live on the cusp of two cultures, much as Linda did as the child of Korean immigrants. Linda says the boys and girls who read her books provide the kind of feedback you don't get from adult readers. She gets fan mail that says, "I've read your book seven times now." (Laughter.)
David McCullough has brought America's greatest figures and events to wide audiences. He once said he started writing about history after viewing a collection of old photographs at the Library of Congress. Of the many gifts the Library of Congress has given our country, inspiring David McCullough's passion may be one of the most generous.
Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, did not remain a secret very long. It created quite a buzz, drawing millions of readers over the last few years. But it took an unusual event to convince Sue that she had truly achieved fame. The big moment came for Sue when she was watching TV and discovered that her book was an answer on the game show Jeopardy! (Laughter.)
Tom Wolfe's appeal spans generations. From his first articles more than 40 years ago, to his most recent exploration of life on a college campus, Tom Wolfe has shown a reporter's gift for capturing the details of time and place. He finds inspiration all around. "You can settle in anywhere in the United States," Tom has said, "and if you spend a few weeks in a place, you'll encounter more strange stories than you ever dream existed."
Strange, beautiful, haunting, and uplifting, the tales penned by tonight's authors are a joy to read. To hear from one of these artists would be a treat. But to hear from all four is a feast.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for participating in the 2005 National Book Festival.
END 7:10 P.M. EDT