June 2017
Dr. Julie Finck with husband Ron at the
Bud Light Gives to Houston Event.

Dear Houston Community,

Another school year has ended for children across our city. Not only is summer a time for children to have fun, but it is also an important time for them to continue to read and learn. So, let's make summer count. Why? Because all children tend to lose ground in math and reading during the summer. Especially, low-income students who can fall further behind in reading than their more affluent peers during these months. This summer learning loss cumulates year after year and can result in children losing significant ground academically.

Much like any skill, to be great at reading, practice is required. I recall Malcom Gladwell's statement in his bestselling book, Outliers: The Story of Success: "Practice isn't the thing that you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good." It's important for families to support and encourage their child's learning and to provide them with meaningful opportunities to become good readers.

We are working hard again to make summer count by ensuring that more children have access to high-quality summer learning programs and access to books in their home. For example, we have teamed up with the Houston Area Urban League, the Houston Symphony and the Children's Museum of Houston to offer Camp Adventure! More than 800 children will participate in the free, two-week program underwritten by Phillips 66 and Target. Corporate partners Bank of Texas, Cheniere Energy, JP Morgan, KPMG, Marathon Oil, Phillips 66, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Schlumberger, and Target have all committed teams of volunteers to facilitate the activities that integrate science, technology, engineering, math, reading and the arts. Thanks to Marathon Oil, every child will also receive a home library during the camp. I encourage you and your organization to be a part of this exciting program as volunteers and make summer count for hundreds of children.

There are several other free programs in our city and online that engage and encourage children to read and learn. Check out our website to learn more about why you need to make summer count and to view Summer Learning Opportunities for the children in your life.

Thank you for joining us to make summer count!


Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.

The school year has ended, but be sure your children don't take a break from reading and learning this summer. According to research from Scholastic, the world's largest children's book publisher, one in five children aged 12 to 17 and one in five kids in low-income families did not read any books last summer. Here are three great reasons why you should promote summer reading and learning with your children:

1. Reading as a leisure activity is the best predictor of comprehension, as well as vocabulary and reading speed (i.e., fluency).
2. Children who read at least four books over the summer perform higher on reading comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read only one or no books over the summer.
3. Learning or reading skill loss that occurs during the summer widens the achievement gap year after year between more proficient and less proficient students. By the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss can lead to a two-year lag in reading achievement.

So, make learning and reading a priority in your family this summer, and make it fun. There are incredible, free opportunities around the city and online. Check out our Summer Learning Opportunities page for more information.


The Curiosity Cruiser, a partnership initiative between the Ladies for Literacy Guild and the Harris County Public Library, is aimed at providing educational programs and home libraries to children in disadvantaged communities across Houston. The mobile library initiative is set to launch later this summer through a pilot project in Clayton Homes, an affordable housing community.

Last month after much anticipation, the 30-foot truck was delivered to Houston by Morgan Olson, the leading manufacturer of walk-in vans (i.e., think Fed-Ex trucks) in the country. Owned by Houston businessman John P. Poindexter, the team did an incredible job designing and manufacturing a custom truck.

Over the next couple of months, the vehicle will be transformed into the Curiosity Cruiser by upfitting it with shelves, cabinets, technology, lighting, a custom exterior wrap, and more features. Stay tuned for new developments on this important initiative, including the big reveal later this summer.

Base truck.
Rendering after customizations.

On May 11, America's leading beer brand, Bud Light, and Silver Eagle Distributors hosted "Bud Light Gives to Houston," benefitting the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. More than 220 volunteers gathered at the Houston Food Bank to assemble home libraries for students in three Houston area schools - Blackshear  Elementary, Browning Elementary and Treasure Forest Elementary through the Foundation's My Home Library program. Bud Light Gives to Houston events are designed to bring local residents together for hands-on projects that give back to various charitable organizations throughout the city. 

We wish to thank Bud Light and Silver Eagle Distributors for their support, as well as,  Chevron, Conoco Phillips, DPWPR, EOG Resources, Fiesta Mart, Houston ISD, Houston Methodist, Investco, Love Advertising, Marathon Oil, Spring Branch ISD, Transwestern, the University of Houston, the University of Houston-Downtown, WhiteMatter, and the Young Professionals Group for sending teams of volunteers to be a part of this worthwhile and fun event.

Volunteers gather for group photo at the Bud Light Gives to Houston event.

Child reads books given through My Home Library.
Photo credit: Michelle Watson, CatchLight Group
Air Liquide is not only providing industrial gases and energy solutions globally, but the company, in partnership with its employees, is also committed to engaging with and supporting the communities in which it operates through its Corporate Sustainability Program.

The company and its employees are sponsoring home libraries for more than 600 disadvantaged children through our My Home Library program. Thanks to their generosity, children in Spring Branch ISD will receive the books just in time for Christmas break this December.

Air Liquide joins My Home Library signature sponsor Phillips 66, along with Marathon Oil, Super Bowl 51 Host Committee and the University of Houston, to ensure that more children have the essential tools for reading success - books! Learn more about how your company or organization can get involved in My Home Library by contacting Kristen Stubbs, Chief Development Officer, at Kristen@BushHoustonLiteracy.org. We invite you to make a tax-deductible donation to support My Home Library Houston to help more children own a home library of their very own. 


Whitney Mercilus, #59 of the Houston Texans and Honorary Chair of the 2017 Jungle Book Gala, joined members of the Host Committee on May 10 to kick off sponsorships and ticket sales for the black-tie event to be held on Friday, September 22, at the Dunlavy. Attendees of the kick-off at White Oak Music Hall enjoyed an amazing view of Houston's skyline, cigars from Embajadores, a whiskey tasting courtesy of TX Whiskey, and food provided by Local Foods, Veritas, Zoe's Kitchen and Common Bond Bakery and Café.

In its third year, the Jungle Book Gala is the annual fundraiser of the Young Professionals Group of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.
Learn more about the event, sign up as a sponsor, or purchase tickets.

Jungle Book Gala Host Committee with Whitney Mercilus. 


Books Between Kids , a nonprofit organization founded in 2013 with a mission to build home libraries for children in need one summer at a time, hit a big milestone last month when it distributed its one-millionth book. The celebration took place at Piney Point Elementary School in HISD. Every May for the past five years, the organization has been distributing new and gently used books to children attending elementary schools and early childhood centers across Houston. We congratulate Books Between Kids and thank them for all that they do to help more children become book owners.

From left: Jaime Grissom, Sandra Alhorn, Amy Barnes, and Trent Hale pose with Justin, the recipient of the one millionth book.

Brenda Love with Mrs. Barbara Bush
Have you ever watched a cartoon or other animated film and wondered just how it was created? Have you e
ver seen cool, custom digital artwork and had an interest in understanding just what goes into making it come to life? Well, here is your opportunity to see and hear about the magic! On Thursday, June 22 from 5:30-7:00 pm, we are partnering with Love Advertising to host our next Networking Event for  our Young Professionals Group.  

Love Advertising, founded by Brenda Love, is a full-service advertising agency with a diverse client base of local and national brands, including Gallery Furniture, Papa John's Pizza, Joe's Crab Shack, Boy Scouts of America and CenterPoint Energy. The firm is also the creative team behind our Curiosity Cruiser initiative, a 30-foot mobile library that will soon hit the streets of Houston to serve low-income children through fun educational programs and complimentary books. The team at Love named the truck, designed the mascots and created their backstories (sneak peek: they're exciting!), developed the graphics for the exterior "wrap" for the truck and more.


From left: Volunteer mentor stands with Carley Colton, HISD Literacy Specialist, and Neil Bush.
On May 8, the Houston Independent School District (HISD), in partnership with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, hosted a Read Houston Read Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast at the Children's Museum of Houston. Read Houston Read is a volunteer-based reading intervention program for first and second graders in which members of the community contribute at least 30 minutes each week to read to or with a child either online or in person. This year, nearly 700 volunteers participated in the Read Houston Read Program. We are grateful for the time they spent not only improving the reading levels of children, but also serving as their mentors.

During the event, Lance Menster, HISD Officer of Elementary Curriculum and Development, Michael Lunceford and Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca, HISD District Board of Education Trustees, and Neil Bush, Co-Chairman of the Foundation, addressed volunteers to express their gratitude for their hard work and commitment to reversing the cycle of low literacy in Houston. Two very special volunteers, Cathy Geis and Cynthia Bryant, were named Read Houston Read Volunteers of the Year for going above and beyond in their volunteerism. In a short video feature before accepting her award, online volunteer Bryant met her student for the first time. Tears welled up as she approached the podium to speak. "When you're with a student for a year, it's like adopting a child. I had never met her before so being able to see her for the first time really made me emotional," Bryant said.

In-person volunteer Geis, who along with Bryant said she plans to volunteer again next year, said her goal is to impart a love of reading to the children. "It's a wonderful opportunity. I like to read, and I love to help children develop that same enthusiasm and begin to realize how important reading is - that if they can read, that's the key to life and having hours and hours of enjoyment." We encourage you to view the brief, but powerful videos on Cathy Geis and Cynthia Bryant.

This month KHOU11 will host its annual Turn the Page campaign to raise awareness for the literacy cause and call upon the community to donate books to go to local children in need. For more information about the event and how you can participate go to, KHOU.com