Barbara Bush Foundation to Host 2023 National Celebration of Reading in Washington, D.C.

New York Times bestselling authors Cheryl Strayed, Steven Rowley and Rebecca Yarros among the special guests who will gather to raise support for the Foundation’s nationwide literacy work

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is pleased to announce that it will host its signature biennial event, the National Celebration of Reading, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.

The National Celebration of Reading brings together members of the Bush family, bestselling authors and entertainers, and special guests to advance the mission of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. This year’s lineup of award-winning authors will include Helena Andrews-Dyer (“The Mamas”), Jeffrey Nussbaum (“Undelivered: The Never-Heard Speeches That Would Have Rewritten History”), Steven Rowley (“The Guncle,” “The Celebrants”), Cheryl Strayed (“Wild,” “Tiny Beautiful Things”) and Rebecca Yarros (“Fourth Wing,” “In the Likely Event”).

“I’m honored to take part in the National Celebration of Reading because I believe in the power of words and stories to transform our ideas about ourselves, others and the world. Through reading, we’re enriched, enlightened, educated and entertained,” said New York Times bestselling author Cheryl Strayed. “Literacy is essential not only because it empowers us as individuals by expanding our opportunities, but because it allows us – through reading – to feel connected to others across every divide. It reminds us that the our most deeply felt experiences are universal.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart, host of “The Saturday Show with Jonathan Capehart” and “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” on MSNBC, will serve as emcee for the event. The evening will also include a musical performance from Franc D’Ambrosio, best known for his long-running portrayal of the lead role in the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The Honorable Mike J. Rogers (MI) and Kristi Rogers will serve as chairs for the 2023 event, which aims to increase awareness of our country’s adult literacy crisis, raise support for the Foundation’s work and celebrate the life-changing power of literacy.

“Children who struggle to read lead to adults who struggle, and it has created a cycle of poverty and crime in the United States that is our silent crisis,” said Mike and Kristi Rogers. “This is a crisis we can fix, and we must come together as Americans to correct the intolerable low literacy levels that plague our children, students and fellow Americans. The National Celebration of Reading and the Barbara Bush Foundation provide powerful, proven steps forward. Please join us in supporting and winning this fight.”

The event will also provide the opportunity to honor leaders at the both the national and grassroots levels who have made significant contributions toward a more literate America. Recipients of the 2023 Barbara Bush National Literacy Honors Award will be the American Library Association and social media influencer Oliver James. The 2023 Dyer Pearl Literacy Award, which recognizes local organizations, will be presented to Bernie’s Book Bank (Chicago, Illinois) and Trident Literacy Association (Charleston, South Carolina).

“From hearing her favorite authors read from their works to meeting learners who have improved their lives through literacy, my mom loved every minute of the Foundation’s Celebration of Reading events,” said Doro Bush Koch, the Barbara Bush Foundation’s honorary chair. “We’re so grateful to the authors and special guests who will share their time and talents with us this year, and we’re looking forward to an incredible evening.”

Sponsorships are available for the National Celebration of Reading, which include exclusive benefits such as a private, intimate luncheon with members of the Bush family and guest authors and preferred seating at the event.

“What Barbara Bush knew more than three decades ago is still true today: literacy changes lives,” said Andrew Roberts, interim president and CEO. “The National Celebration of Reading is the perfect opportunity to honor her legacy, celebrate the transformative power of reading and carry on the work that she began to build a stronger, more equitable America through literacy.”

For more information on the National Celebration of Reading and sponsorship opportunities, visit

About the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has been the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy for more than three decades. Established by former First Lady Barbara Bush in 1989, the Foundation is a public charity dedicated to creating a stronger, more equitable America in which everyone can read, write and comprehend in order to navigate the world with dignity. To learn more, visit

The National Celebration of Reading is an external rental presented in coordination with the Kennedy Center Campus Rentals Office and is not produced by the Kennedy Center.

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SOURCE Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy


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