First Lady Laura Bush was an elementary educator and a librarian. She encourages and promotes literacy and the love of reading of all ages. When her husband, George W. Bush, was governor of Texas, she began what has become an ongoing tradition: a statewide book festival, held in Austin, the state capitol. As First Lady, she has expanded this effort by spearheading an annual national book festival held in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Bush continues her campaign on literacy by encouraging early literacy skills in younger children. She also helps to promote the idea of family reading time, especially for young children, through a PBS initiative called "The Designated Reader Campaign."
Students who participate in this activity will read books chosen from a reading list created by Mrs. Laura Bush, will select from a variety of products that demonstrate their understanding of what they've read, and will design a book festival for their own school and community.
Computer with Internet access, books (on list), paper, art materials, pen or pencil. Useful, but not required: food for festival, art programs, digital camera, and materials to decorate school.
1. Explain to students that the First Lady, Laura Bush, enjoys reading herself and promotes reading for others.
2. Explain to students that they will be having their own school (or community) book festival.
3. Using the list of recommended reading for families and for young readers of different ages and abilities found on the First Lady’s website (below), and depending on the ages and reading levels of the students, encourage students to select at least one book from the list to read for himself or herself.
4. Using the “Designated Reader Sign-Up Sheet” found on the PBSkids website (below), ask students to have their parents, siblings, or other student or adult sign up for reading aloud for 20 minutes every day for a week.
5. Once students have read at least one book, have students each create a poster, picture, image, story, pottery, collage, or any other creative item that relates to the books they read. (Note: these items can be created on a computer, or with magazines, newspapers, art supplies, and paper).
6. When students have completed their poster or other demonstration project, have the students celebrate by having their own school or community book festival. If it is open to the community, invite parents, grandparents, and neighbors to be involved. Ideas for the festival can be found on the Festival websites (below). Use the student demonstration projects to decorate the school and construct a festive reading atmosphere.
7. (Optional). Ask the local library to bring the book mobile and / or have a local book company bring in books to sell.
Extending the Lesson:
This lesson may be extended by taking pictures of the school and the student work to create a portfolio for parents, staff, and students to remember the occasion from year to year.
Sources & Resources:
Information about Mrs. Laura Bush’s Reading Programs
Mrs. Laura Bush’s Recommended Reading List
National Book Festival
Information about the Annual National Book Festival
PBS Designated Reader Program
PBS Designated Reader Commitment Sheet
This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University.