The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 20, 2007

Interview of Mrs. Bush by Matt Lauer, NBC's Today Show
Via Satellite

7:49 A.M. EDT

Q Thousands of people all over the country are reading to kids today, promoting literacy and early childhood education.

Q This is all part of Jumpstart's "Read for the Record" campaign. Among the readers is the First Lady, Laura Bush. Mrs. Bush, good morning to you, nice to see you.

MRS. BUSH: Good morning, Matt.

Q This is such a great program -- we were involved last year -- it stresses the importance of reading to your children at an early age. And before we talk about the children around you right there, what kind of a daily ritual was reading in your home when you were growing up and how did you pass that along to your children?

MRS. BUSH: Well, my mother read to me every night before I went to bed. It was a very important part of my childhood -- so important, in fact, that I ended up making my career out of reading and becoming a librarian. And then George and I read to Barbara and Jenna until they could read to us, and that was really fun. It was a really wonderful way to end the day, with your arm around your child and reading to them.

Q Why is it so important, do you think, Mrs. Bush, to start reading to your children when they are very young?

MRS. BUSH: It's very important because one thing children learn from being read to is that the words on the page correspond to the words that you actually say. You have to be taught to read; you don't just learn it naturally. And all of the things that parents do when they read to their children when they're little, starting from when they're babies, give their children the pre-reading skills that they need to learn to read when they start school.

Q And you were reading the story of "Ferdinand" to the children, and we're all going to read the same book today.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q And could you just tell me a little bit about the children you're with there?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm with children from Pershing Hill Elementary School; they're in the 1st grade. Pershing Hill is on the Fort Meade base here, an Army base in Maryland, it's close to Washington, D.C. A few of these children's parents are deployed now. It's a great school, it's part of the Anne Arundel County School District.

Q That's nice. Well, Mrs. Bush, thanks so much. Enjoy the book.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much.

Q It's a pretty big deal for them -- I can imagine they're going to get older and they're going to say, then there was the day that the First Lady actually read a book to me. (Laughter.) So that's kind of cool for them.

MRS. BUSH: They all read, they say, at home every night, so that's great.

Q Good message. Thank you so much.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you.

END 7:51 A.M. EDT

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