Saturday, April 4, 2009

Laura Bush Part 2: Life Before Washington DC

Laura Bush at a School
Laura Lane Welch Bush was born in Midland, Texas, on November 4th, 1946, to Harold and Jenna Welch. An avid reader and advocate for literacy, some of her fondest memories from her childhood come from reading with her parents. Mrs. Bush has said,

"I learned [how important reading is] at home from my mother. When I was a little girl, my mother would read stories to me. I have loved books and going to the library ever since. In the summer, I liked to spend afternoons reading in the library. I enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie books and Little Women, and many others... Reading gives you enjoyment throughout your life."

Mrs. Bush grew up in Midland and attended Southern Methodist University. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Education and went on to teach elementary school in Dallas and Houston. She would later earn a degree in Library Science from the University of Texas and work as a librarian. She has often said her time as a teacher and librarian helped her realize how important reading truly is.

George and Laura Bush Family

The future first lady would not meet her husband until 1977, at a barbecue. They were married later that year and their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna arrived four years later, in 1981. She would spend the next few years raising her daughters, campaigning for her father-in-law, President George H. W. Bush, and volunteering to work with babies with AIDS.

When George W. Bush decided to run for Governor of Texas in 1994, Mrs. Bush originally resisted, insisting she was not interested in politics. But Mrs. Bush's transition to First Lady of Texas was seamless. She dove into the role, becoming a champion for several important causes. She was an advocate for literacy and several children's causes. She began "Take Time For Kids" an awareness campaign to educate parents and caregivers; she urged the people of Texas to establish family literacy programs. She established "Reach Out and Read, " a pediatric reading program and "Ready to Read," an early childhood education program. Mrs. Bush raised money for public libraries and established the Texas Book Festival. She focused on helping abused and neglected children through the establishment of "Rainbow Rooms" and the "Adopt-a-Caseworker" Program. She also helped raise Alzheimer's and breast cancer awareness.

In 1999, when then Governor George Bush announced that he would run for President, Mrs. Bush has said she joked to her husband that it was okay as long as she never had to give a speech. Fortunately, she wasn't true to her word. At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Mrs. Bush gave a speech that would put her in the national spotlight and give the country a glimpse at the elegant woman from Midland, Texas. Laura Bush would go on to become, not just First Lady, but a leader and role model for women and people all over the world.

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