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Barbara Bush Foundation’s Celebration of Reading Student Essay Contest Deadline Approaching, Jan. 17

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2018) – The deadline is approaching for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s annual student essay contest.

Open to third- through fifth-grade students in Southwest Florida, including Charlotte, Collier and Lee counties, this year’s essay contest challenges young writers to think about issues that are important to them – whether in their schools, local communities, or around the world – and explore ways they may be able to use their unique strengths and abilities to make a positive change.

Essays should be no longer than 500 words, and the submission deadline is Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. All entries must be submitted electronically to Entry forms and contest guidelines are available at

The Florida Department of Education’s Just Read, Florida! office, along with a panel of community leaders, will assist in reading and judging entries. Three winners will be selected from each grade. Contest winners, accompanied by their parents and teachers, will be recognized at a VIP breakfast kicking off the Celebration of Reading event on Friday, Feb. 16 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs.

Student essay contest winners will be invited guests of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and will have the opportunity to meet with special guests Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart and acclaimed children’s author Christina Diaz Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is the award-winning author of several books, including “The Red Umbrella,” “A Thunderous Whisper,” “Moving Target” and “Return Fire.” Her books have received numerous honors and recognitions from publications such as Publisher’s Weekly, the Miami Herald, School Library Journal, and the Washington Post, which have called her novels engrossing, compelling and inspirational.

Gonzalez will also be part of the Celebration of Reading evening reception at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. Since 2001, the Florida Celebration of Reading has raised more than $26 million for the Barbara Bush Foundation in support of family literacy programs that help parents and children improve their literacy skills.

In addition to Gonzalez, the Celebration of Reading evening program – chaired this year by Sandra and Jeb Bush, Jr. – will feature guest appearances from New York Times best-selling authors including retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills and acclaimed novelist Jan Karon. Mills, who became a quadruple amputee after surviving an explosion while on active duty in Afghanistan, is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir “Tough as They Come.” Author of 14 novels, including the popular Mitford series, Karon is also the recipient of the Library of Virginia’s Literary Lifetime Achievement Award.

For more information about Celebration of Reading and the Barbara Bush Foundation, visit

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy. The Foundation was established by Mrs. Barbara Bush in 1989, inspired by her vision of fostering the opportunity for every man, woman and child to secure a better life through literacy. Today, the Foundation is a public charity that remains committed to Mrs. Bush’s vision, working to expand literacy access for the bookends of our education system: early literacy for young children and opportunities for low-literate parents to improve their skills. To learn more, visit or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter (@BarbaraBushFdn).

Angela Bell, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold, Marketing and Public Relations, 239-275-5758,

Get in Touch

You may also contact us by phone at 850.562.5300 or by mail at:
Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
516 North Adams Street • Tallahassee, Florida 32301