April 2018
Dear Houston Community ,

First Lady Barbara Bush with Dr. Finck
On Thursday, April 19, the Bush family will host  A Celebration of Reading at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The event was created 24 years ago by First Lady Barbara Bush to shine a light on the literacy cause and to celebrate the joy that reading can provide.

"Literacy is so fundamental to the success of every life we can touch, and that's the most important reason why I look forward to A Celebration of Reading," says Mrs. Bush. "This incredible event reminds me of the progress we have made on our journey to empower people with an equal opportunity to succeed in school, work and life, which is only achievable through the ability to read, write and comprehend."

Best-selling authors will take the stage to bring their works to life, including Clive Cussler, Jim Gaffigan, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Christina "CK" Kerley, and Candice Millard. In addition, from The VOICE, Houston's Mary Sarah and Victoria White, Marquist Taylor and the Houston Gospel Choir will fill the room with their vocal talent. It will no doubt be a very special evening! I invite you to join us.

A Celebration of Reading garners funds to carry forth Mrs. Bush's legacy and advance our important mission of improving lives through the power of literacy. I am deeply grateful to our sponsors and donors for helping us raise more than $2M for the fourth year in a row. Thank you for your generosity and support!

I look forward to seeing you at the 24th annual A Celebration of Reading!


Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.
We wish to give a shout out to Co-Founder and Co-Chair Neil Bush for representing the Foundation at the recent Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns game during which he served as celebrity for the "First Shot." Thanks, Neil, for giving of your time and earning $1,000 to advance our mission!

April 8-14 - National Library Week
April 12 - Friends of the Houston Public Library Outreach Day and Membership Drive
                        11:00 am - 2:00 pm, Jungman Neighborhood Library
April 19 - A Celebration of Reading at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
                        5:00 pm VIP Authors' Reception
                        6:30 pm Program
April 23-25 - Curiosity Cruiser at the Fort Bend County Fair
April 26 - Houston Public Library Food and Family Event
                        6:30-7:30pm at the Clayton Guest House
April 26 - Family Workshop Facilitator Training
                        Children's Learning Institute and Children's Museum of Houston
                        8:30 am - 12:00 pm
April 26 - 27 - Big Awesome Book Sort
April 28 - Early Learning Festival
                        9:00 am - 1:00 pm
                        Houston Zoo
October 23 - Ladies for Literacy Annual Power of Literacy Luncheon
November 9 - Young Professionals Group Annual Jungle Book Gala


Our inaugural Big Awesome Book Sort for the My Home Library program was a success! Over the course of the two-day event, almost 300 volunteers created home libraries for more than 4,000 students in the Houston area. Thank you, Region 4 Education Service Center, for hosting us and Perry Homes, Houston Independent School District, Target, Harris County Public Library, StalwartMC, and The Regis School of the Sacred Heart for sending teams of volunteers.
We will have our second Big Awesome Book Sort for the My Home Library program April 26 through 28, during which we will assemble home libraries for children attending Browning, Peck, Scarborough, Tice, Walnut Bend, and Young elementary schools, along with Elite STEM Primary Academy. Volunteer roles will include unloading and sorting books, setting up tables, and bagging books based on children's wish lists. Click below for volunteer information or to sponsor a child's home library.


Representatives from Higher Impact Ministries 
receive help selecting books from Trish Morille, 
Ladies for Literacy Guild Vice President 
for Community Partnerships.

Thanks to the Rockets Women's OrganizationReliant®, the Ladies for Literacy Guild, and the Houston community, more than 18 literacy-minded nonprofit organizations had an opportunity to select from nearly 11,000 books to support their literacy programs. We are deeply grateful to the following organizations for their partnership and all that they do in our city to help children and adults learn how to read and develop the skills needed for success in school, work and life. We encourage you to learn more about these organizations and how you can get involved.
Ladies for Literacy Guild members volunteering alongside Houston Rockets Women's Organization.

The Alliance
Amaanah Refugee Services
Books Between Kids
Casa de Esperanza de los Nonos, Inc.
Children's Museum of Houston
Harris County Public Library
Higher Impact Ministries
Homemade Hope
Houston Area Urban League
HYPE Freedom School
Initiatives for Healthy Communities
Literacy Advance of Houston
Making It Better
Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital
Mission of Yahweh
New Hope Housing
Story Square
Westlake Community Center
Women's Storybook Project


Our Ladies for Literacy Guild, Young Professionals Group, and community partners hit the streets to celebrate National Read Aloud month.

Thank you to everyone who supported National Read Aloud Month and made it successful!
Laurel D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets
Women's Organization reads aloud to
children at Memorial Elementary.

Ladies for Literacy Guild member Lisa Jakel and
Chief Development Officer Kristen Stubbs
celebrate Read Across America Day
with pre-kindergartners.

YPG member Chris Stockton reads shares a story with students at Piney Point Elementary School.

Phillips 66 employees volunteer at Walnut Bend Elementary to kick-off National Read Aloud Month.


Ginger Blanton and Pam Sengelmann at
Bubbles & Books event.
Last week women gathered at River Oaks Bookstore to mix and mingle over champagne and books and learn more about the mission of the Ladies for Literacy Guild and the benefits of membership. The special "Bubbles & Books" event was hosted by Ginger Blanton and Pam Sengelmann, vice presidents of membership for the Ladies for Literacy Guild. Members brought friends, family and coworkers during the Happy Hour-festive event generously underwritten by River Oaks Bookstore that featured guest authors and the Curiosity Cruiser mobile library. By the end of the night, 25 women joined the Ladies for Literacy Guild, making it a very successful evening. To learn more about the Ladies for Literacy Guild and become a member, click here.


Betty Hrncir, Ladies for Literacy Past President; Dr. Julie Finck, Foundation President; and Stephanie Tsuru, Ladies for Literacy President.
We wish to express our deepest gratitude to the incredible women who served as officers of the Ladies for Literacy Guild since its inception two years ago: Betty Hrncir, Stephanie Tsuru, Donatella Benckenstein, Mehrnaz Gill, Lilly Andress, Trish Morille, Jennifer Hazelton, Claudia Kreisle, and Pam Roberts. Their extraordinary commitment of time, talent and treasures has been exceptional, resulting in a robust membership of more than 200 women, the creation of the Curiosity Cruiser mobile library, and more! Their leadership has made a difference in our community and laid a strong foundation for future success of the Ladies for Literacy Guild.
We are excited to officially announce the elected officers of the Ladies for Literacy Guild for 2018 as follows:

President: Stephanie Tsuru
President-Elect: Donatella Benckenstein
Secretary: Lily Andress
Vice-Presidents of Membership: Ginger Blanton and Pam Sengelmann
Vice-Presidents of Volunteers: Diane Gendel and Lisa Jakel
Vice-Presidents of Community Engagement: Trish Morille and Carol Sawyer
Treasurer: Jennifer Hazelton


Last Fall, we partnered with the Herman H. Fleishman Foundation to provide funding to the Children's Museum of Houston to launch a pilot program, called Welcome Baby. Welcome Baby is helping new parents support their infant's development and early literacy skills. The program engages low-income parents of infants ages two to nine months by providing them with resources that will equip them to facilitate the development of oral language and other pre-literacy skills.

As part of a new pilot, this past fall the Children's Museum of Houston distributed 1,000 Welcome Baby bags to low-income parents at the Museum and at twenty locations where families already receive services, including thirteen City of Houston Health Department Women, Infants, and Children(WIC) locations; Legacy Community Health Clinics; AVANCE and Collaborative for Children's College Bound from Birth program locations.

Evaluation results show that the Welcome Baby resources are positively impacting families. One month after receiving a Welcome Baby bag, the percent of parents who indicated that they often read to their baby increased from 55% to 77%. The greatest gains were seen in parents who initially reported that they rarely read to their baby; more than half of parents who rarely read to their child began reading more frequently after receiving a Welcome Baby bag.

A mother and infant explore the many resources provided in their Welcome Baby bag.

As part of the program's introduction phase, a total of 1,000 Welcome Baby bags were distributed at community locations, including at the Museum on Free Family Nights immediately after Hurricane Harvey.