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Spreading the Joy of Reading Through the Holidays and Beyond

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation holds its annual A Celebration of Reading Author Reveal and Holiday Party

Photo Credit: Dave Rossman

General Editor: Margaret MacMillan

Publisher: Connie Kwan-Wong

The Celebration

The elegant home of Susan and Fayez Sarofim was the meeting place this holiday season for supporters of A Celebration of Reading. Past major donors, event committee members, and Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation members joined foundation cochairs, Maria and Neil Bush, for the exclusive evening soirée.

The Story

Dressed in festive splendor, the 80 guests mingled over cocktails and enjoyed an Asian-themed buffet courtesy of City Kitchen. The unique offering included a build-your-own sticky rice bowl station, Bánh Mì sliders, and cold sesame noodles with peanut sauce in Chinese to-go containers. For dessert, a dazzling display of fresh pound cake, assorted berries, holiday cookies, macaroons, and lemon bars provided the perfect palate pleaser with which to end the delicious meal.

The Moments

Maria and Neil Bush welcomed guests and thanked them for their ongoing support of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. They also provided attendees with a light-hearted update on the Bush family. Julie Baker Finck, president of the foundation, spoke about its priorities for the coming year.

The highlight of the fête was the unveiling of the initial New York Times bestselling authors for the 2020 A Celebration of Reading event, which will take place at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts on April 30, 2020. They are Mark Sullivan, Washington Post and USA Today bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky and coauthor with James Patterson of the Private series, and H.W. Brands, the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at The University of Texas at Austin; twice-named Pulitzer Prize finalist; and author of the recently published, Dreams of El Dorado.

After the event, the foundation confirmed a third author, Kathy Reichs, had been added. Reichs is a forensic anthropologist and the award-winning author of over 35 books, including the New York Times best-selling Bones series, which incorporates her real-life work. Her forthcoming novel, A Conspiracy of Bones, is set for release on March 17, 2020.

Additional authors for the Celebration of Reading event will be revealed in 2020.

Guests: Maria and Neil Bush, SusanSarofim, Julie Baker Finck and Ron Finck, Nancy Ames and Danny Ward, Eddy Blanton, Ginger Blanton, George and Annette Strake, Martha and Mark Carnes, Joanie and Don Haley, Cary Dunham, Sidney Faust, Pat and David Jones, Lily and Charles Foster, Mehrnaz and Ned Gill, Grace and Robert Givens, Betty and John Hrncir, Alice and Keith Mosing, Sally and Charles Neblett, Deborah and Monte Stavis, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Trish and Rock Morille, and Donatella Benckenstein.

About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy: the ability to read, write, speak clearly, and think critically.

For more information, please visit or followon Facebook at

@bushhoustonlit on Twitter @bushhoustonlit and on Instagram @bushhoustonlit.


Following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding large gatherings,the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundationis postponing A Celebration of Reading, which was scheduled to take place April 30, 2020. The foundation also believes this is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of its generous donors, authors, friends, and guests. Understanding the cancellation may cause some inconvenience, the foundation appreciates everyone’s understanding in this matter. 


A Celebration of Reading is one of Houston’s most beloved annual charity events and fuels the foundation’s important work in the community. For that reason, organizers are working diligently to reschedule the event for the fall. Once a new date has been confirmed, it will be announced.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan w


Mark Sullivan is the acclaimed speaker and author of eighteen novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Private series, which he writes with James Patterson. He also is the author ofthe USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon bestsellerBeneath a Scarlet Sky, a riveting saga of history, suspense and love based on the true story of a forgotten hero during World War II and his incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.Mark has received numerous awards for his writing, including the WHSmith Fresh Talent Award, and his works have been named a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year.

Dreams of El Dorado by HW Brands with Au


H. W. Brands, Ph.D. is an American historian who holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at University of Texas at Austin. He has authored 30 books on U. S. history, several of which have been namedNew York Times bestsellers. He has twice been selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his books, The First American and Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His latest book, Dreams of El Dorado, tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American West. He takes us from John Jacob Astor's fur trading outpost in Oregon to the Texas Revolution, from the California gold rush to the Oklahoma land rush.

Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs with


Kathy Reich, Ph.D. is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and one of only 100 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reich has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. She has authored more than 35 books, including herNew York Times bestsellingBones series.Her forthcoming book, Conspiracy of Bones, features main character Temperance Brennan andis scheduled for release on March 17, 2020.Dr. Reich was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

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