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From the moment her mother introduced her to the wonders inside the Midland (Texas) County Library, Laura Bush developed a passion for reading and a love of literature that heavily influenced her life. “Little did I know,” she recalled, “that my mother was paving the way for my success in school, while teaching me the value of a good education.”

As an only child in Midland, she practiced teaching on her dolls; as a young adult after graduating from Southern Methodist University, she taught reading to grade school children in Houston and Dallas, went on to a master’s degree in library science at the University of Texas and was an elementary school librarian in Austin, Texas, when she met her future husband, George W. Bush, at a backyard barbecue. They were married in 1977. Twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were born in 1981.

In 1994, George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas. As first lady of Texas, Mrs. Bush helped organize the Texas Book Festival, which raised funds for public libraries. She promoted the arts, historic preservation, and volunteerism.

When George W. Bush decided to run for president in 2000, she joined the campaign trail with him—a bit reluctantly at first. “When George asked me to marry him he promised me I’d never have to give a speech; so much for political promises,” she quipped.

As first lady, she highlighted women’s health issues and challenges confronting children by creating the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Initiative, conducting a White House summit meeting on early childhood development, and hosting a conference on Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers. She launched the National Book Festival in partnership with the Library of Congress. She also led Helping America’s Youth, a national initiative designed to help at risk children and teens. Mrs. Bush also served as Honorary Chair of the National Park Foundation.

The hardships of women and children in repressive societies drew her attention. In 2001, Mrs. Bush became the first presidential spouse to deliver the White House weekly radio address, which highlighted the Taliban’s repressive treatment of Afghan women. In 2002, she helped launch the US-Afghan Women's Council to address their most critical needs. In 2003, she was named Honorary Ambassador for UNESCO’s Decade of Literacy and launched a series of global literacy summits to improve the education of children worldwide. She traveled to Africa to promote the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), and malaria initiatives and, in 2006, co-hosted the first White House Summit on Malaria. She also launched a breast cancer initiative in the Middle East. In all, Mrs. Bush traveled to more than seventy-five nations.

After Bush’s presidency, the Bush family returned to Texas. Mrs. Bush published her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, in 2010. She worked to open the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the Bush Presidential Museum and Library and the George W. Bush Institute.