Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

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Barbara Bush in the China Room holding Millie

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is a non-profit organisation, based in Florida, that seeks to improve literacy in the United States through programs directed towards preschool children and parental literacy.[1]


During Barbara Bush's time as Second Lady, while her husband was Vice President of the United States, she took an interest in literacy issues, prompted by her son Neil's diagnosis with dyslexia. She subsequently began working with several different literacy organizations and spent much time researching and learning about the factors that contributed to illiteracy—she believed homelessness was also connected to illiteracy.[2] In 1984 she wrote a children's book about her family told from the point of view of her dog C. Fred entitled C. Fred's Story, and donated all proceeds to literacy charities.[2] When her husband became President her most public cause was family literacy. She called it "the most important issue we have".[3] Barbara Bush stated her dedication to eliminating the generational cycle of illiteracy in America by supporting programs where parents and their young children are able to learn together. During the early 1980s, statistics showed that 35 million adults in the United States could not read above the eighth-grade level and that 23 million were not able to read beyond a fourth-grade level. She appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the situation and spoke regularly on Mrs. Bush's Story Time, a national radio program that stressed the importance of reading aloud to children.[4]

Barbara Bush became involved with literacy organizations, served on literacy committees and chaired reading organizations. Eventually, she helped develop the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.[5] The foundation formed in 1989 with a stated aim of getting low-income parents reading, creating positive examples for their children. The foundation aimed to help young parents pass their high school general educational development tests via literacy programs.[6] It was first announced at a luncheon in March 1989. Barbara Bush was to be the foundation's honorary chairman, and Joan Abrahamson the chairman.[7]

Some funding came from a book, credited to the Bushes' dog Millie but ghostwritten by Barbara Bush, Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush. The book reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller nonfiction list.[8] The book earned $1.1 Million of royalties to July 1991.[9] All of the after-tax royalties were donated to the foundation.[10]

Management and Activities

Barbara Bush chaired the foundation until 2012. From then her children Jeb Bush and Doro Bush Koch served as co-chairs.[6] Jeb Bush resigned in 2015, leaving Doro Bush Koch as the honorary chairman, though Barbara Bush remains active in the foundation.[11]

As of 2014 the foundation ran 1500 literacy programs spread across in all US states.[6] The foundation's stated mission is "to make literacy a core value in every home in America".[12] It is registered as a public charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.[13]


  1. "Fact sheet" (PDF). Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. March 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Barbara Bush Biography". A&E Television Networks, LLC. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  3. "White House biography of Barbara Bush". White House. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2011. 
  4. "First Lady Biography: Barbara Bush". National First Ladies Library. Archived from the original on November 19, 2005. Retrieved January 21, 2008. 
  5. Lamar Brantley. "Barbara Bush as a Role Model". Rolemodel. Archived from the original on July 5, 2007. Retrieved November 17, 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Bello, Marisol (5 March 2014). "Bush foundation celebrates 25 years of family literacy". USA Today. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  7. Lawrence, Jill (9 March 1989). "Barbara Bush Begins Family Literacy Foundation". Associated Press. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  8. "September 30, 1990 Non-Fiction" (PDF). The New York Times Best Seller List. Hawes. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  9. "Royalties from 'Millie's Book' Top $1 Million". Associated Press. 10 July 1991. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  10. Hunt, Terrance (16 April 1992). "'Millie's Book' Makes First Lady the Big Breadwinner". Associated Press. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  11. Larson, Leslie (1 January 2015). "Jeb Bush resigns from corporate, nonprofit boards to start 2015 afresh". New York Daily News. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  12. Pfaff, Jennifer. "Doro Bush Koch's Love for Literacy". Palm Beach Illustrated. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  13. "Share the Love of Reading". Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 

External Links