2021 National Celebration of Reading

Event Details

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
October 21, 2021
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The National Celebration of Reading brings together members of the Bush family, bestselling authors and entertainers, and special guests to advance the work of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. This signature event on Thursday, October 21, 2021, at the John F. Kennedy Centerfor the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., raises support for nationwide literacy programs and increases awareness of our country’s literacy crisis.

Our incredible lineup of authors and special guests will include President George W. Bush, Leslie Jordan, Mateo Askaripour, Eva Chen, Lupita Nyong’O, Meena Harris, Darren Walker, and Tim Shriver. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart will serve as our emcee, and we will present Barbara Bush National Literacy Honors Awards to LeVar Burton and the LeBron James Family Foundation.

Our Guest Authors and Speakers
President George W. Bush

George W. Bush served as 43rd President of the United States of America from 2001 to 2009. As Commander in Chief, President Bush worked to expand freedom, opportunity, and security at home and abroad. At home, he championed the No Child Left Behind Act to raise standards in schools and cut taxes for every federal income taxpayer, restoring economic growth and launching an unprecedented 52 straight months of job creation. The Bush Administration also negotiated new free trade agreements, worked with Congress to pass landmark healthcare reforms, and instituted robust environmental protections. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President Bush responded with a comprehensive strategy to protect the American people. Under his leadership, the United States built global coalitions to remove violent regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq that threatened America and provided unprecedented support for young democracies and dissidents around the world. President Bush also launched global HIV/AIDS and malaria initiatives that have saved millions of lives, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to serving as President, he was the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995-2000.

After the Presidency, President Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas. The Bush Center is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Institute, a nonpartisan public policy and leadership development center that engages communities across the United States and around the world by developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

President Bush is the author of four bestselling books: Decision Points (2010), 41: A Portrait of My Father (2014), Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors (2017), and Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants (2021). He and Laura are the parents of twin daughters: Barbara, married to Craig Coyne, and Jenna, married to Henry Hager. The Bushes also are the proud grandparents of Margaret Laura “Mila”, Poppy Louise, and Henry Harold “Hal” Hager.

Mateo Askaripour

Mateo Askaripour’s work aims to empower people of color to seize opportunities for advancement, no matter the obstacle. He was chosen as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “10 rising stars to make waves in 2021” and a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Lit Hub, Catapult, The Rumpus, Medium, and elsewhere. His debut novel, Black Buck, was an instant New York Times bestseller and a “Read With Jenna” Today Show book club pick. He lives in Brooklyn.

Eva Chen

Eva Chen is a first-generation Chinese-American who grew up in New York City. She blames her deviation from pre-med at Johns Hopkins University on a love of fashion and beauty instilled in her by her mother, whose perfect bob and lipstick made a permanent imprint on her impressionable young mind. Previously the editor in chief of Lucky, Eva has also written for ELLE, Vogue, Teen Vogue, Vogue China, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. She is currently the head of fashion partnerships at Instagram. Eva lives in New York City with her husband and two children. She is the author of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes; A Is for Awesome; Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure; 3 2 1 Awesome!; and Roxy, the Last Unisaurus Rex.

Meena Harris

Meena Harris is one of the most powerful and dynamic young leaders in America. As the founder and CEO of the groundbreaking Phenomenal brand, as well as an author, lawyer, and producer, Meena is a respected entrepreneur and an influential voice for gender equity. Meena’s legal expertise is in the areas of consumer protection, data privacy, and cybersecurity. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Meena released her latest book, Ambitious Girl, in January 2021. Meena has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Adweek, and more. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and currently resides in San Francisco with her partner and two daughters.

Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan is one of the most consistently recognizable faces in popular entertainment. His journey towards stardom has provided one of the quirkier, impressive, and varied career trajectories of the past few decades. Through it all, Leslie has remained constant, relevant and – above all – funny! His ability to take it all in stride has kept him moving onward, upward but never straight. Leslie won an Emmy Award in 2006 for Will & Grace. Currently on television again in Fox’s Call Me Kat, he has conquered the international stage and remains an in-demand mainstay as a performer, voice-over artist, fundraiser, spokesperson, out artist, equal rights activist, and all around Southern Baptist celebutante. He released an album, Company’s Comin’, and a memoir, How Y’all Doing? Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, in April 2021.

Lupita Nyong'0

Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress, producer, and New York Times bestselling author. She made her feature debut in Steve McQueen’s Academy Award® winning film 12 Years a Slave. For her portrayal as “Patsey,” Nyong’o received the Academy Award®, the Screen Actors Guild® Award, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Image Award. Nyong’o played Nakia in Marvel’s Oscar-nominated film, Black Panther, which has broken numerous box office records. The cast won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble and her performance earned Nyong’o a nomination for an NAACP Image award. She is currently in production on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Nyong’o executive produces the YouTube Originals family program, Super Sema. The animated series depicts Africa’s first kid superhero and features Nyong’o’s voice. She can be heard narrating Discovery’s docu-series, Serengeti, which explores the dramatic day-to-day happenings of animals living in Tanzania’s Serengeti. In 2020, Nyong’o narrated Netflix’s Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, which earned her an Emmy Award. Upcoming, she will star in Universal’s thriller, The 355 and will co-produce and feature in Born a Crime, as well as executive produce and star in Apple TV’s Lady in the Lake. Nyong’o starred in Jordan Peele’s critically acclaimed horror film Us as both “Red” and “Adelaide,” which garnered her a Screen Actors Guild nomination, the NY Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, and an NAACP Image Award. Past credits include Little Monsters, Queen of  Katwe, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

In 2021, she played “Julieta” in The Public Theater’s bilingual audio adaptation of Romeo y Julieta. In 2016, Nyong’o earned a Tony® nomination for her Broadway debut in Eclipsed. Her debut children’s book Sulwe, a New York Times #1 Best Seller, released by Simon & Schuster in 2019, discusses colorism, the preferential treatment of those with lighter skin, which is an issue across the globe, and impacts children from a young age.

Tim Shriver

Timothy Shriver is married, a father of five, the Chairman of Special Olympics International and co-founder of UNITE – an initiative to promote national unity and solidarity across differences. Tim began his career as an educator and subsequently co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning. Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a master’s degree from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He has produced six films, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Fully Alive – Discovering What Matters Most, and co-editor of a new book, The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening.

Darren Walker

Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, a $13 billion international social justice philanthropy. Under his leadership, the Ford Foundation became the first non-profit in U.S. history to issue a $1 billion designated social bond in US capital markets for proceeds to strengthen and stabilize non-profit organizations in the wake of COVID-19.

Darren co-chairs New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and has served on the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and the UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He co-founded both the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. He serves on many boards, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, Carnegie Hall, the High Line, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Square, and Ralph Lauren. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and is the recipient of 16 honorary degrees and university awards, including Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.

Educated exclusively in public schools, Darren was a member of the first Head Start class in 1965 and received BA, BS, and JD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. He has been included on numerous leadership lists: TIME’s annual “100 Most Influential People,” Rolling Stone’s “25 People Shaping the Future,” Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business,” Ebony’s “Power 100,” and Out magazine’s “Power 50.” Most recently, Darren was named Wall Street Journal’s “2020 Philanthropy Innovator.”

Sponsorship Information

The National Celebration of Reading brings together members of the Bush family, bestselling authors and entertainers, and special guests to advance the work of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. This signature event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., raises support for nationwide literacy programs and increases awareness of our country’s literacy crisis.

Please find details on sponsorship packages available for the National Celebration of Reading here. For more information concerning sponsorships, please contact Charlotte Abbott at or 302-593-9663

Celebration Committees
National Celebration of Reading Chairs

Doro Bush Koch & Tricia Reilly Koch

Honorary Co-Chairs

Mrs. Melania Trump
Mrs. Laura Bush
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Mrs. Rosalynn Carter

Honorary National Celebration of Reading Committee

The Honorable Jeb & Columba Bush
Margaret & Marvin Bush
Maria & Neil Bush
Doro & Bobby Koch
Alexander Andrews
Elizabeth Andrews
Pace Andrews
Ashley Bush & Julian LeFevre
Barbara Bush & Craig Coyne
The Honorable George P. & Amanda Bush
Lora & Walker Bush
Marshall Bush
Noelle Bush
Sarahbeth & Pierce Bush
Sandra & Jeb Bush, Jr.
Jenna & Henry Hager
Gigi Koch
Lauren Bush Lauren & David Lauren
Lee & Sam LeBlond
Kitty Montesi & Robert Koch
Ellie & Nick Sosa

Honorary Host Committee

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Tammy Baldwin
The Honorable Marsha Blackburn
The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito
The Honorable Susan Collins
The Honorable Tammy Duckworth
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
The Honorable Deb Fischer
The Honorable Maggie Hassan
The Honorable Cindy Hyde-Smith
The Honorable Amy Klobuchar
The Honorable Cynthia Lummis
Mr. Bill McBride, Executive Director
of the National Governors Association
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
The Honorable Rob Portman
The Honorable Jacky Rosen
The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen

National Celebration of Reading Committee

Lindsay & Max Angerholzer
Wallis Annenberg
Patrice Brickman
Nancy G. Brinker
Angela & Tyler Cooper
Millie & Kenneth Cooper
Kelly Corrigan
Chuck Dages
Jason Denby & Joe Figini
Chris Evert
Heather & Andy Florance
Orion French
Jamie Gangel & Daniel Silva
C. Boyden Gray
Debbie Marriott Harrison
Vicki & Kevin Hartley
Teri Hatcher
Marsha & Wade Henderson
Ambassador Brenda LaGrange Johnson
Laura Cox Kaplan & Joel Kaplan
Autumn & Fred Karlinsky
Coach Kathy Kemper
Bobbie & Bill Kilberg
Nia King-Rubie
Shannon Lucas
Marlene A. Malek
Anita & Tim McBride
Stewart McLaurin
Keith & Jon Meacham
Cori & Brad Meltzer
Sharon & Chip Molster
Erin Mote
Eric L. Motley
Sue Nahley
Courtney & Jim Nantz
Kristan & Kyle Nevins
Patty & Mike Orfini
Rupal & Piyush Patel
Dana Perino
Shelley Peterson
Raquel Rodriguez
Regina Rogers
Kirby Salerno
David Shane
Nancy & Ignacio Sosa
Andrew Sugerman
Paige Vanosky