Barbara Bush's fight for national literacy

Aside from her adoring family, nothing ignited the passion of Barbara Bush more completely than her crusade to give each American child the ability to read, and read well.

“It's life empowering and life changing, and in a sense that's what Barbara Bush is all about,” said Children at Risk leader Dr. Bob Sanborn.

Dr. Sanborn bore witness to decades of Barbara Bush's battle for national literacy—a struggle which began with the anguish of overcoming her son Neil's dyslexia and continued unabated to the White House with the establishment of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

“We've always had literacy proponents and we've ad literacy organizations, but I think what has happened is that Barbara Bush really sort of lifted this up and gave this much more visibility as a first lady and then continuing that work afterwards. This focus on literacy has been important for her and she's made it important to us,” Dr. Sanborn said.

In the quarter century since leaving the White House, this wife of one president and mother to another has powerfully preached a heart-felt belief that a child's first school is the home, the parent is a child's first teacher and a child's first subject must be reading. It was for our First Lady of Literacy, a fundamental formula for meeting and even exceeding human potential.

“Barbara more so than anyone, understood that kids need a helping hand. Kids need a guiding hand and literacy has the power to be a guiding hand, but it has the power, really, to raise children from one economic level to another,” Dr. Sanborn said.

By her efforts, countless stories which may have gone untold were instead joyfully shared – father to daughter, mother to son. A fitting legacy, for a life well lived.